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On 13 January 2013 - 5:08pm

Another new year comes around and, with tedious inevitably, the social enterprise definition debate rears its many heads. The trigger for the latest exchanges is the fact that, shortly before the Christmas break, the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, fulfilled his duty under the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and came up with a definition for social enterprise.

As reported previously, a relatively insignificant side dish amidst Andrew Lansley’s 18 month-long  legislative dog’s dinner was the decision that contracts to run the new bodies set-up to scrutinize health and social care under the act, local ...more

On 22 December 2012 - 9:24pm

In a recent post, I responded to a talk from Andy Benson, of campaign group National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), on the group’s opposition to the role of social enterprises in the privatisation of public services. The concerns raised by the NCIA are expanded on in this blog post from Dr Simon Duffy, director of The Centre for Welfare Reform.

According to Duffy: “currently in the UK, we are seeing the most significant direct attack on the rights and conditions of the poor and of disabled people. By 2015 spending on services for disabled ...more

On 17 December 2012 - 11:59am

Do you like the idea of new and existing social enterprise being given £100 milllion to enable them to deliver health and social care services? If your answer to this question is ‘yes’ you’ll probably feel that the Department of Health’s Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF) has been pretty successful.

This is the one sentence description of what SEIF was set up to do is: “The Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF) was set up in 2007 to stimulate the role of social enterprise in health and social care, through providing investment to help new social enterprises start up and existing social enterprises grow and improve their services.”

SEIF investments between 2007 and 2011 clearly did stimulate the role of social enterprises in health and social care but, based ...more

On 11 December 2012 - 11:55am

Unlike Salesforce — who were quite genuinely using the term to describe something else entirely — there are plenty of companies in the UK who claim to be trading for a social purpose but are not what many of us would regard as ‘real social enterprises’… My latest mythbusting column for The Guardian‘s Social Enterprise Network on why social entrepreneurs shouldn’t waste time worrying about ‘bogus social enterprises’.

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On 7 December 2012 - 9:07pm

Social enterprises are getting bigger, they’re growing more slowly than last year and they still receive eight times as much income in grants and donations as they generate in profits. Those are the three key messages from this RBS SE100 index.

The SE100  is a list of the top 100 fasted growing established social enterprises – those that have been trading for three years or more – with separate awards for those organisations that are best at demonstrating social impact and newcomers trading for less than three years. It’s generated from a self-selecting but pretty big, in depth, sample of UK social enterprises, carried out behalf of Matter & Co, formerly publishers of ...more

On 3 December 2012 - 8:27pm

Potentially interesting developments loom for Community Interest Companies (CICs) after the CIC Regulator launched a review of the CIC dividend cap last week. CICs were introduced as new legal form by the then Labour government in 2005. There are now over 7000 of them with umbrella group, the CIC Association, reporting over 100 new registrations each month.

As Civil Society explains: “Currently, community interest companies (CIC) dividend pay-outs are capped at 20 per cent of the initial investment. There is also an aggregate cap of 35 per cent on all distributable profit of a CIC. The consultation launched this week asks if the cap on ...more

On 21 November 2012 - 1:12pm

To Northampton last Monday for Seminar 1 in a series of seminars collectively known as Reconstructing Social Enterprise. The aim of the series is: ‘to establish a multidisciplinary group of international academics and practitioners approaching the field of social enterprise from a critical yet sympathetic perspective’.

Alongside a series of interesting academic presentations, the practitioner contributing to the seminar was Andy Benson, Director of the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA) and his presentation ‘Social enterprise as a smokescreen for the Privatisation of Public Services’ did something at least roughly approximate to what it said on the tin.

Benson provided a considered and articulate outline of ...more

On 6 November 2012 - 12:13pm

To Stratford last Wednesday for East London’s event on the government’s new Community Rights, organised by Urban Forum (where I am a trustee) and Locality.

The Localism Act 2012 gives communities four new rights: Community Right to Build, neighbourhood planning, Community Right to Challenge and Community Right to Bid. The first two of these are well explained by their names. The Right to Build provides communities with: “the right to build small-scale, site-specific projects without going through the normal planning application process” while the right to neighbourhood planning gives communities the right to ...more

On 30 October 2012 - 5:29pm

Following on from the recent several blog posts on the subject, I’m hoping to continue the process of taking discussions about social investment beyond the world of politicians, intermediaries and support providers by holding a free event.

It’s taking place next Thursday at The Mill in Walthamstow, the community space where we (Social Spider CIC) are based. Details are here. Please sign up if you’re interested in attending.

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On 29 October 2012 - 1:33pm

Anyone who’s dipped into the exciting selection of recently published reports on the growing social investment market in the UK will know that – contrary to the rhetoric – should you find yourself pitching for some of this cash, the second last thing you need to be thinking about is your social impact, and the very last thing you need to be thinking about is your ability to demonstrate that impact.

As the Big Lottery-backed report noted Investment Readiness in the UK noted: “Investees appear to think that their ability to create social impact will be more significant to investors than seems to be the case on the evidence of those who have received investment. This perception amongst potential investees appears to weaken as they get closer towards securing finance.

This is partly because there’s currently significant ...more