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On 15 August 2013 - 10:41am

Social investment is big in Australia or, at least, it soon will be. The state government of New South Wales (NSW) is currently in the process of piloting Australia’s first Social Benefit Bonds (SBB), the equivalent of Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) in the UK...” my latest feature for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.

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On 13 August 2013 - 9:33am

Unfortunately, even if social investors were prepared to put their money into spin-outs, there is still a problem that the money they provide is too expensive and many spin outs have been surprised that the fact they deliver positive social outcomes, doesn’t mean investors will offer them a better financial deal…” – my latest piece for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network on the challenges facing spin outs and other social enterprises delivering health and social care services.

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On 12 August 2013 - 11:47am

In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, Peter Buffett, musician, philanthropist and son of Warren Buffett, lays into what the headline writer calls ‘The Charitable-Industrial Complex’.

Buffett’s view is that as increasing numbers of very wealthy people decide to ‘give back’ some of their immense wealth, the US is seeing an ever-expanding ‘not-for-profit’ sector which is making those rich donors feel much better about themselves but also helping to sustain the economic structures that produce the social problems their donations are, in theory, designed to solve.

Buffett tells us that: ”Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits increased 25 percent. Their growth rate now exceeds that of both the business and government sectors. It’s a massive business, with approximately $ ...more

On 5 August 2013 - 12:01pm

According to the Daily Mirror, a large provider of outsourced public services ‘has terminated 2,400 employees’ contracts and issued new ones – including 300 zero-hour agreements‘.

So far, so unsurprising. This is typical of the assault on the rights of low paid workers committed by unscrupulous private employers in the outsourced public service sector. In this case, the organisation responsible is a charity which claims to be a social enterprise.

Last year, Social Enterprise UK took a stand against this kind of behaviour with the publication of The Shadow State.

As that report ...more

On 2 August 2013 - 11:36am

When the then leader of the opposition, David Cameron, launched The Big Society in his 2009 Hugo Young lecture it seemed like he (or, at least, his adviser Steve Hilton) had hit on a really good idea.

On the one hand, it was an attempt to slay the ghost of Margaret Thatcher’s much quoted assertion that there was ‘no such thing as society’, on the other it was a radical critique of the growth the state under New Labour.

Cameron key point was that while Blair and Brown had spent huge amounts of money, inequality had actually increased. His new improved Tories cared about growing poverty and inequality but offered a positive alternative to Labour’s approach of chucking just chucking money at the problem.

In his lecture Cameron rejected calls from ‘some on the centre-right’ for big spending cuts saying: “Our ...more

On 22 July 2013 - 3:14pm

Social enterprises are out-performing mainstream SMEs. That’s the headline message from The People’s Business, the latest Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) state of social enterprise report, which was launched earlier this month.

The People’s Business, like its predecessor Fightback Britain, is a serious piece of work that, while understandably accentuating the positive, provides lots of meaningful data on the experiences of social enterprise in the UK.

It ...more

On 18 July 2013 - 9:43am

“…It’s no surprise that the approach to social investment and, by extension, social innovation being pushed forward by the UK government is popular with other countries’ governments and international business leaders…my latest piece for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network looks at the World Economic Forum’s take on social innovation.

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On 16 July 2013 - 12:35pm

… There clearly are ways that social organisations can grow and sustain themselves without being profitable trading businesses. One of the most obvious ones is getting large numbers of people to give you money… ” – my latest mythbuster for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.

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On 11 July 2013 - 12:04pm

There’s a new artisan bakery in Hackney in east London. What is different about the Better Health Bakery is that it’s an artisan bakery run by the mental health charity the Centre for Better Health... ” – my latest feature for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network.

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On 8 July 2013 - 11:24am

Last week, I was interviewed by a PHD student whose PHD is focused on social entrepreneurship – what it is and why people do it. He asked me how I came to co-found a social enterprise in the first place. While my answer at the time probably wasn’t very interesting, considering the question did get me thinking about what it was that first started me off on my journey towards my current position as a 32-year-old grizzled veteran of the UK social enterprise scene.

It all began when, as an 18 year-old A-Level student, I got a phone call from a bloke who was putting together a TV show about urban arts. At the time, I was an up-and-coming performance poet, and the caller had got my details from The Poetry Society who’d thought I might be interested in appearing in his TV show.

At a subsequent meeting ...more