The more you read about the environmental, social & governance (ESG) requirements, the more it begins to sound like a social credit system for businesses.

And anyone who goes through planning applications will see that developers are taking it seriously.

Certain terms like ‘community’, ‘sustainability’, ‘much-needed housing’, crop up over and over. But are planning officers and councillors really impressed? Do developers really need to try to give the impression they are there for the good of humanity, rather than trying to get their permissions?

In effect, this is the world ESG creates. If you don’t tick enough boxes and prove that you’re being good boys and girls, you won’t get what you want. No doubt businesses seeking public sector contracts will have to be especially good.

Naturally enough, many are at pains to stress their ESG credentials, while at the same time making sure they fit within the specific requirements of the system. Is this coming from the goodness of their hearts or their business acumen?

Not so long ago, everyone seemed to be talking about corporate social responsibility but that appears to be yesterday’s requirement.

In recent weeks Thames Tap has highlighted four causes, seeking to find a base in Reading town centre and hoping the property world will help.

A hub for the young in Reading town centre was proposed by No 5 which it and two other groups could operate from and now First Stop could be part of.

The amount of voluntary effort between these organisations is remarkable. In fact, it took us a while to get hold of Sally Leonard at First Stop because she was busy co-ordinating an army of volunteers for the Reading Festival.

All four of these groups work to help the young, something needed now more than ever. No 5 has counselled young people for more than 50 years but has seen a massive increase in demand since lockdown.

First Stop is helping reduce visits to A&E. Reading FC’s Community Trust has an incredible reputation for doing good for many thousands of kids and Home Start is a godsend to many families of little children.

These groups could operate effectively and efficiently by sharing a home and will help shape the business world’s future workforce.

So if developers, investors and others in the property world are serious about their good intentions and want to make a noticeable difference to a town they are invested in, here is a good place to prove it.

Otherwise, you begin to wonder if the social conscience they are at pains to put on display is really what it seems.

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