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On 30 June 2012 - 7:01pm

It’s probably an understatement to say that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (the Act), finally passed in March this year, left a great many of the details about how state-funded health and social care in the UK will be scrutinized and delivered open to local interpretation.

An interesting early example of a local interpretation that some may find perplexing is the decision of Lancashire County Council to award the contract to run HealthWatch – the new body which will be responsible for representing and communicating the views of patients and other local people about health and social care services – in their area to a private company, Parkwood Healthcare.

Local HealthWatch organisations are the Act’s replacement for ...more

On 29 June 2012 - 12:32am

Last week I went to the launch of London Borough of Waltham Forest(LBWF)’s Thriving Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy. When they started work on it was alliteratively known as the Thriving Third Sector Strategy but during the process of putting it together, the Third Sector was abolished by the incoming Coalition government.

Broadly speaking, the Coalition government has also abolished social enterprise support as a continuous specialist service. Regional support organisations were mostly funded through Regional Development Agencies and they’ve been abolished.

That’s a shame because at the launch of LBWF’s strategy, everyone seemed to be talking about social enterprise: some people were already running one, others were thinking of setting one up. This clearly isn’t a co-incidence. The reason why more people are starting social ...more

On 21 June 2012 - 5:32pm

Is there something about social enterprises that means they’re the best settings for innovation? Here’s the second of my exciting mythbusting columns for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.


On 16 June 2012 - 3:51pm

Andrew Hill’s Financial Times Business blog last week asked some social entrepreneurs running benefit corporations – a reasonably new social enterprise-style corporate structure in the US – whether or not they regarded themselves as capitalists. The question prompted an interesting range of responses.

Four out of five respondents quoted seemed to see their socially enterprising activity as at least a version of capitalism, the closest to a ‘no’ came from the appropriately named Sean Marx of Give Something Back Office Supplies who answer was: “I studied economics. I’m not a capitalist in a free-market way.

At ...more

On 14 June 2012 - 11:49am

I went to parliament yesterday for GlobalNet21′s event on Social Enterprise and Equality. Although, one of the speakers, Third Sector Research Centre‘s Simon Teasdale, did talk about current research into equalities issues in social enterprise, perhaps inevitably the bulk of the discussion from the other speakers and the questions from the (large) audience focused on the ability of social enterprises to grow and thrive in the current economic climate.

Of the other two speakers, Chris White, the Conservative MP who introduced the private members bill that became the Public Services (Social Value) Act – which obliges public sector commissioners to consider wider ...more

On 7 June 2012 - 5:07pm

Charities or social enterprises should be the main contractors for the work programme. No one can doubt their motives and they should be given a chance to prove their efficacy.”

That’s the conclusion of the Red Tory, Phillip Blond, reflecting on the possible lessons to be gleaned from what’s now being called the ‘London Bridge incident’, in which private security firm Close Protection UK provided unemployed ‘volunteers’ with the ‘opportunity’ to sleep under London Bridge and get changed in public before doing a 14-hour shift stewarding for the Queen’s Jubilee.

The potency of Blond’s suggestion that the incident proves charities and social ...more

On 30 May 2012 - 5:45pm

The pressing, practical question is: do intermediaries exist whose investments in social enterprises and charities yield enough profit that might enable £600m of Big Society Capital to be spread in some sort of equitable way?

So says Daniela Barone Soares, chief executive of venture philanthropy specialists, Impetus Trust, in a thoughtful and sensible piece for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network. Her basic point is that there’s a need for some market research to work out how-on-earth, government-backed wholesale lending institution, Big Society Capital, is going to get rid of £600 million (and have a realistic hope of getting it back ...more

On 23 May 2012 - 11:57pm

I was up in Nottingham last week for the Fit for the Future conference on the role social enterprise in the future of health and social care services. The conference, organised by Social Enterprise UK in parternership with social enterprise events organisers, Sensevents, brought together a range of health experts and social enterprise leaders to survey the landscape of healthcare in the UK. It’s a landscape that’s seen plenty of upheaval since the arrival of the Coalition government in 2010.

In the good old days social enterprise conferences we’re top heavy with enthusiastic people making outlandishly optimistic statements about their ability to change the world. Nowadays you can avoid ...more

On 16 May 2012 - 4:25pm

The strapline: “Impact investment isn’t a movement any more, but a real and fast growing asset class” was almost enough to send me off to read something else but I heartily reccomend having a read of Per Granvist’s report on SOCAP recent conference in Malmo (on CSRwire).

UK readers may not be aware of Social Capital Markets but they run an international events series “that connects leading global innovators – investors, foundations, institutions and social entrepreneurs” with the aim of helping to build the market “at the intersection of money and meaning.

Granvist ...more

On 15 May 2012 - 9:26am

I got a big shock a few weeks ago when I met one of the social entrepreneurs behind RSA Island Village (RSA IV) in Enfield, north London…. Here’s the first post of my exciting new column on Guardian Social Enterprise Network.