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On 7 December 2012 - 8:07pm

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 - 7:27pm

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 - 12:12pm

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 - 11:13am

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 - 4:29pm

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.


On 29 October 2012 - 12:33pm

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

On 21 October 2012 - 5:09pm

This is the first in an occasional series of updates about things going on in the world of social enterprise (and related fields) that I think readers might be interested in.  To avoid any confusion, none of the mentions below are paid-for ads but the activities I’m personally involved in will (like this blog itself) mostly be work I’ve been doing as part of my day job at Social Spider CIC. The regularity of the series will depend on its popularity.

Book of the week:

On current evidence, it would be easy to think the future of UK social enterprise was partly as a mechanism for outsourcing public services and partly as a competition to see which Shoreditch-based geniuses can come up with the silliest, most expensively innovated idea for convincing people who don’t want to volunteer to volunteer.


On 17 October 2012 - 11:27pm

My exciting series of interviews with social enterprise leaders for Social Enterprise Live is now called Floyd’s Leader Focus. Here’s the second one, with Co-Operatives UK‘s Secretary General, Ed Mayo.


On 14 October 2012 - 10:40pm

I spent part of last Friday (5th) at Outsourcing and Austerity: Civil Society and the Coalition Government, a conference held at TUC headquarters and supported by the unions, Unite and Unison, and the voluntary sector umbrella groups, NAVCA and NCIA.

Given the title of the conference and the organisations supporting it, it was pleasantly surprising that the breakout discussion entitled ‘What is social enterprise?’ – sensibly revised on the day to ‘Social ...more

On 8 October 2012 - 1:35pm

Investment readiness is often widely understood as a state, which comprises a number of key characteristics, much like business readiness or market readiness. But what it means to be investment ready will vary from one investee to another and is determined to a significant degree by the eye of the beholder – in this case the investor.

As mentioned previously, we’ve recently seen the publication two key reports on the future of the UK’s hype-ridden social investment ‘sector’. The above quote is from the second of these, Investment Readiness in the UKa report from Clearly So and ...more