Authorship: Nicky Stevenson and
Helen Fitzhugh, The Guild.
Jo Ransom, Exemplas.
2. The Strategic Objectives
4. Preparation of the Strategy
5. The Operational & Policy Environment
6. Summary & Conclusion
The first Social Enterprise Strategy for the East of England was published in 2005. Five years on, and in changed economic and political circumstances, the strategy has been reviewed and re-formulated on the basis of extensive consultation with social enterprises, regional infrastructure and support organisations. This has been further contextualised through background research into the current operational and policy environment.
The overarching strategic objectives encompass the following priorities:
2. Getting the message across
The strategy aims to build a prosperous social enterprise sector in the East of England, based upon well-supported and empowered businesses with the capacity to develop individuals; resulting in high levels of social capital.
- Raising the profile of social enterprise - Working with other sectors - Customer, worker and community awareness-raising - Having a say â€“ involvement and influence - Working with all sections of the community
Consultation Social enterprises, their support organisations, and regional infrastructure agencies, were all consulted on the key issues by the following means:
1. Supporting social enterprises - Access to finance - Business support and learning - Networks and peer learning - Measuring impact
3. Making the most of the business environment - Public policy - Responding to the recession
- An initial interactive poll held at the Social Enterprise East of England The priorities reflect the key and cross-cutting issues to emerge from the (SEEE) AGM consultation. - A set of six strategy review workshops - An online questionnaire Conclusion - Interviews with stakeholders This strategy aims to place social enterprises and their support needs at the centre of a changing agenda and to demonstrate ways in which others can assist them in achieving the vision. Social enterprises are businesses. They trade. This strategy identifies how they can be helped to do this and to contribute towards the well-being of individuals, communities and the economy of the East of England. 3
Foreword 2010 promises to be a time of change and this is, in many respects, an exciting time for social enterprises. Looking back to 2005, when the last strategy was published, it is good to see how much progress has been made. Five years on, the social enterprise sector in the East of England is bigger, better known and having more impact. Social Enterprise East of England (SEEE) was then just an embryonic organisation, but is now well established and has delivered or helped shape the delivery of many activities that were identified in the previous strategy.
Looking back at some of the things that have been achieved since 2005, we can point to:
The various consultation activities that took place to help shape this strategy came up with remarkably similar headline issues to the 2005 strategy: access to finance and business support, people knowing what social enterprises are, how to contract with public authorities. All of these are still important for social enterprises. But beneath the headlines the story is changing. Social enterprises are concerned about the introduction of personalised care services and seeking new opportunities. Existing social enterprises need different forms of finance to support growth â€“ even in a difficult economic climate.
- The Building Communities Fund - investing in assets and helping to make social enterprises more sustainable
- The growth of SEEE as a powerful lobby organisation on behalf of the social enterprise sector â€“ communicating the message about social enterprises through Social Enterprise Day Gala Dinners, a new look InTouch magazine, and policy debates at the Winter and Summer Schools - The successful pilot of the Microcoaches programme, enabling peer- to- peer support to take place between social enterprises
- The SEED (Social Enterprise Executive Development) programme run by Anglia Ruskin University supporting social enterprise leaders - The Business Link voucher scheme and Business Development Grants to enable social enterprises to access business advice - The roll-out of the Ensuring Seamless Support programme across the region â€“ working towards social enterprises wherever they are in the region being able to access good quality business support
There will be many other opportunities for social enterprises to develop and grow that will emerge over the next five years and the adoption of this strategy is the first step towards supporting this development. Peter Holbrook Chief Executive of the Social Enteprise Coalition
1. Introduction The 2005 strategy was based on extensive consultation with social enterprises, their support organisations, and other agencies within the region. It recommended a strategic role for the new regional network, Social Enterprise East of England (SEEE) in conjunction with many other stakeholder organisations and partners. After the first five years of operation for SEEE, and in changed political and economic circumstances, it is time for a new strategy that is tailored to current issues and also looks towards the future. A new consultation with social enterprises, support and infrastructure agencies highlighted a number of key issues. Consultation work was supported and contextualised through desk research. The new strategic priorities link into the objectives of other regional and national policies (see section 5). The policy has also been rural-proofed according to EEDA guidance, in recognition of the urban / rural profile of the East of England. This approach will need to be extended to the implementation plan. The starting point for producing this new strategy was to revisit the 2005 document, to provide continuity and a clear direction. The vision
statement is the same as in 2005. Many of the principles were still relevant and have been retained with some amendments or additions. But in response to the consultation feedback, some principles have been amended to make them relevant to the current environment. The nine strategic objectives in the old strategy are all linked to the new strategic objectives written in response to the consultation. Two new issues were identified at the first stage of the consultation: diversity and working with the private sector. A further issue, the increasing importance of measuring impact, emerged during the full consultation process. All of these areas have been addressed in the key actions that will achieve the three new over-arching strategic objectives below: - Supporting social enterprises - Getting the message across - Making the most of the business environment This strategy has been written at a time of significant change in the economic landscape. Following a period of economic growth and investment into the social enterprise sector, 2010 and beyond will be a period of economic recession, rising unemployment, particularly amongst young people, and reductions in public spending. 7
2. The Strategic Objectives Supporting social enterprises The strategic priorities How are we going to do this? Access to finance (1, 6)
Activities suggested during consultation
Increase knowledge and awareness of the full range of financial options open to social enterprises Improve access to start up finance
- Seed funding - Small equipment set up costs - Feasibility studies - Transitional support if the organisation is moving from a traditional role in the voluntary and community sector
Improve access to finance for periods of development and growth Improve access to finance for times of temporary cash flow difficulty
Explore the diversification of social enterprise income streams, for more stable financial health
- Encouragement to consider the use of credit - Support to provide the evidence needed to gain credit - Community share issues and community bonds - â€˜Inward investmentâ€™ (successful existing social enterprises re-investing in start-ups)
Improve the ability of social enterprises to win contracts
- Supporting ways to produce the relevant proof of competence and sustainability required by the public sector, especially at an early stage of development - Exploring ways to support the formation of sustainable partnerships
Bracketed numbers refer to related 2005 strategy objectives. See appendix for a numbered list of the previous objectives
The strategic priorities How are we going to do this?
Activities suggested during consultation
Business support and learning (2, 3, 4, 7)
Improve access for social enterprises to good quality and appropriate business advice
- Essential business planning and realistic forecasting. - Providing access to mainstream support including Business Link grants for business planning and Train to Gain grants - Ensuring that specific social enterprise business advice is available and that social enterprises are guided towards it whichever organisation they go to for advice - Ensuring access to specialists is available, including good quality diagnostics from mainstream providers - Access to free business support. - Advisors to be well informed about the benefits and challenges of social enterprise â€“ in particular the value base - Ensuring access to social enterprise business support of sufficient quality throughout the region / accessible for both rural and urban organisations
Improve access for social enterprises to appropriate, good quality learning opportunities
- Advice on how and where to access appropriate courses - Creating opportunities for formal and informal learning.
Create and support opportunities for social enterprises to participate in networks
- Informal peer-to-peer exchange of good practice - Thematic and trade sector networks - Regional and local networks - Promoting the tangible business benefits to be gained from networking - Support for learning programmes which incorporate peer-to-peer support - Exploring direct uses such as: collective use of back room services, inter-trading between social enterprises, social enterprise supply chains, sharing commercial skills, considering partnerships, strength through numbers for promotion
Networks and peer learning (4, 8)
Supporting social enterprises continued The strategic priorities How are we going to do this? Measuring impact
Activities suggested during consultation
Provide evidence of the benefits of social enterprises
- Need for resources - Gaining buy-in - Appropriate use of methodology, which may require support in the form of information and guidance
Improve use of evidence for how social enterprises make a difference in applications and investment proposals
- Respond to the requirement for a greater burden of proof for funded and contracting organisations
As a sector, set our own agenda in relation to impact measurement
Bracketed numbers refer to related 2005 strategy objectives. See appendix for a numbered list of the previous objectives
Getting the message across The strategic priorities How are we going to do this? Raising the profile of social enterprise (5, 7)
Activities suggested during consultation
Lobby central, regional and local government in relation to key issues
- Making a case based on strong economic and other research - Realistic promotion of what social enterprises can deliver
Inform the general public
- Producing inspirational case studies, story boards and local ambassadors - Branding social enterprises - Depending on their market and purpose, individual businesses will decide how and when they inform the general public that they are social enterprises
Inform young people about social enterprise
- Normalising social enterprise as an option for the next generation - Offering work experience and placements for students
Improve use of evidence in awareness raising activities Working with other sectors (6, 7)
Develop relationships with local and national government
- Public sector agencies need a clearer idea of what social enterprises are, and what they can and cannot do - Addressing issues relating to procurement systems that are seen as bureaucratic, inflexible and commissioners who are largely seen as unaware of the benefits social enterprises have to offer
Work with voluntary and community sector organisations that are investigating means of becoming more sustainable
- Voluntary and community sector organisations need a clearer idea of what social enterprises are, and what they can and cannot do
Develop relationships with private sector businesses
- Educating traditional businesses about social enterprises to encourage trading - Identifying opportunities for working with partners in the private sector
Getting the message across continued The strategic priorities How are we going to do this?
Activities suggested during consultation
Having a say â€“ involvement and influence
Explore increased service user input, influence or participation in social enterprises
- Raising an awareness that social enterprises can contribute to empowering communities - Respond to service user feedback and encourage further involvement
Customer, worker and community awareness-raising
- Ensuring that people are made aware of opportunities to own and influence the way social enterprises work - Promoting the value base of social enterprises as opposed to maximising private profits
Target social enterprise promotion at diverse groups, including young people, the private sector, people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups, rural communities and others
- Clarifying the message for each group - Outreach - Recognition of diverse needs
Working with all sections of the community (5)
Engage with hardâ€“to-reach groups Address equalities issues in areas such as recruitment
- Facilitating training in this area.
Bracketed numbers refer to related 2005 strategy objectives. See appendix for a numbered list of the previous objectives
Making the most of the business environment The strategic priorities How are we going to do this?
Activities suggested during consultation
Public policy (6, 9)
Increase social enterprises’ awareness of government policy – local, regional and national levels
- Exploring the role of Local Strategic Partnerships and Local Area Agreements to identify and provide resources for locally agreed priorities - Understanding economic development as a local authority statutory obligation
Identify where opportunities for social enterprises exist in the priority areas identified in the 2010 East of England Implementation Plan implementation plan for the Regional Economic Strategy (RES) and Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS)
- Housing - Transport - Utilities - Enterprise, business support and innovation - Skills and employability, Culture, creativity and the visitor economy - Green infrastructure, landscape, heritage, flood and erosion risk management and the coast
Identify opportunities for social enterprises to contribute to other policy agendas
- Identifying ways in which social enterprises can contribute to the worklessness agenda by creating new job opportunities - Understanding the role of the government ‘Total Place’ agenda as part of local area efficiency savings
Increase the level of public services delivered by social enterprises
- Addressing significant issues relating to procurement and commissioning - Recognising Health and Social Care as a potential area of growth for social enterprises
Make the most of the benefits and challenges involved in the implementation of the Personalisation agenda
- Requires supported change on the supply side - Requires capacity building on the demand side - Awareness of ‘economies of scale’ challenges facing rural enterprises as a result of change from block contracts to personalised budgets
Responding to the recession
Promote social enterprises as value based businesses
Prepare for the reduction in public spending Identify ways to create skills and employment opportunities
- Social enterprises help people back into the labour market and contribute to lowering unemployment 15
3. Background Social enterprises
According to the Social Enterprise Coalition:
â€œA social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and ownersâ€?.
Social enterprise is not defined by its legal status but by its nature: its social aims and outcomes, the basis on which its social mission is embedded in its structure and governance, and the way it uses the profits it generates through its trading activities:
Social Enterprise - a strategy for success DTI, 2004
Enterprise Orientation - they are directly involved in producing goods or providing services to a market.
This is the most commonly recognised definition of social enterprises in use throughout the social enterprise sector and in government. There is no legal definition of a social enterprise, rather it is a generic umbrella term used to describe a range of business models, such as co-operatives, social firms, development trusts, community businesses and community interest companies (CIC), that trade according to these values.
Social Aims - they have explicit social and/or environmental aims Many social enterprises are also characterised by their social ownership. They are autonomous organisations whose governance and ownership structures are normally based on participation by stakeholder groups or by trustees or directors who control the enterprise on behalf of a wider group of stakeholders. They are accountable to their stakeholders and the wider community for their social, environmental and economic impact. Profits can be distributed as profit sharing to stakeholders or used for the benefit of the community.
The region Home to over 430,000 businesses and 5.6 million people, the East of England is made up of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and the unitary authorities of Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Luton, Peterborough, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock. The region is characterised by a number of medium-sized towns and cities, complemented by extensive rural areas.
Social enterprises in the region There is no one figure for how many social enterprises there are in the East of England as no region-wide mapping has been carried out since 2001. The 2001 survey ‘Making a Living: Mapping the Social Economy in the East of England’ (The Guild) suggested that there were almost 1000 social economy organisations within the East of England at that time, with an estimated combined turnover of £3 billion per year. A literature review, commissioned by SEEE in March 2009, reviewed the data available on social enterprise numbers in the East of England, taken from national surveys. In terms of national mapping, the most commonly quoted
figures have usually come from an estimate in the Cabinet Office’s 2006 Social Enterprise Action Plan derived from data within the 2005 Small Business Survey and the 2005 ‘Survey of Social Enterprises across the UK’ (prepared for the Small Business Service by IFF Research Ltd). This estimate suggested that there were over 55,000 social enterprises in the UK with a turnover of £27 billion in 2006. The latest figures quoted on the Office of the Third Sector website adjust these numbers for 2009 to “62,000 social enterprises […] in the UK, contributing £24 billion to UK output.” The IFF research stated that 10% of UK social enterprises (within their definition) were based within the East of England, a proportion comparable to the East of England’s overall business population in relation to the rest of the UK. The 2009 ‘State of Social Enterprise’ report from the Social Enterprise Coalition stated that their sample was reasonably representative of the UK social enterprise population. Just over 10% of their respondents were from the East of England. If we therefore take 10% as an assumption, this would suggest that there are around 6,000 social enterprises in the East of England. Further research would be required for a more accurate figure. The Social Enterprise Coalition (SEC) confirmed that the findings in the 2009 ‘State of Social Enterprise Survey’ report for the East of England were, on the whole, not statistically different from the UK-wide results. This means that where questions were asked about social enterprise responses to recession, diversity and finance, it is reasonable to look to the UK-wide results to see how the region’s social enterprises are faring.
In the current economic climate, social enterprises in the UK are more confident of future growth than traditional Small or Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), at 48% as opposed to 28%. Furthermore, 56% of social enterprises reported that they have increased their turnover from the previous year, as opposed to 28% of traditional SMEs. Social enterprises vary widely in scale, with a few very large organisations with turnovers in excess of £100 million but the majority consisting of small businesses. In general, larger social enterprises of over £1 million turnover appear to be more profitable, less grant dependent and faster growing than smaller social enterprises, although there are smaller sustainable models. 39% of social enterprises reported that over half their income comes from local and central government. The profile of social enterprise turnover is said to be “comparatively larger than the voluntary / charity sector with which it is often confused or conflated.” In terms of social enterprise opinion and experience, the same SEC report suggested that finance was “the oxygen of social enterprise” and that one third of social enterprises sought new finance in the year preceding the survey; generally for the purpose of growth and expansion. A majority of social enterprises seemed to be receiving between 75% and 100% of the finance they were seeking, so finance is available to many. Finally, the report suggested that business support was not fulfilling the needs of social enterprises and they were turning to their peers for support.
4. Preparation of the strategy The strategy was produced by undertaking three areas of activity:
- An online questionnaire reviewing previous objectives allowed space for the suggestion of new objectives and set out the key issues - A review of the 2005 Social Enterprise strategy for stakeholders in the past year and in the for the East of England future. This questionnaire was live between 5th - A consultation exercise October and 9th December 2009 and received - A policy review 97 responses, with the largest proportion of these being people working directly in social The consultation process enterprises. Social enterprises, their support organisations, regional infrastructure agencies, and those interested in setting up a social enterprise were all consulted on the key issues and the direction of the new strategy by: - An initial interactive poll held at the SEEE AGM in July 2009 on the ongoing relevance of the previous strategy objectives. This allowed the AGM attendees involved to vote and view the feedback in real time and raised awareness of the larger consultation process to come. - A set of six strategy review workshops across the region with a mix of stakeholders. These were held in Ipswich, Hatfield, Chelmsford, Norwich, Cambridge and Bedford and were attended by over 60 people.
Key issues: a) The availability of finance, start-up funding or contract opportunities b) The importance of business support and learning opportunities c) The effects of national and local government policy (and a possible change of government) on the sector
- Face to face and telephone interviews took place with stakeholders from regional d) The profile of social enterprise infrastructure agencies such as EEDA, e) The value of networks and peer-learning SEEE, Business Link, Improvement East, Eastern Region Federation, Development Trust Cross-cutting issues: Association, Co-ops East. During the consultation, some issues were raised consistently. The headings for these have been listed under ‘key issues’. When the consultation had finished and all of the feedback was analysed and summarised, three further issues emerged. These have been designated ‘crosscutting issues’ below because they emerged from the discussions as underlying assumptions or necessary approaches to support progress on each of the key issues. Examples have been given below of how these cross-cutting issues have relevance for each key issue.
f) Working with and raising awareness in other sectors g) Measuring impact h) The importance of diverse and meaningful customer, worker and community awareness- raising and involvement.
5. The operational and policy environment The economy
The Insight East report concludes:
The diverse East of England economy is worth over £109.9 billion a year. The region entered the recession with a more varied economy and lower average unemployment than most of the rest of the country. However, the worldwide recession has been serious and has impacted on the region, with business closures, redundancies and an increase in unemployment up to the end of 2009 when there was some stabilisation in numbers of new claimants.
“Manufacturing and construction sectors have experienced significant levels of redundancies and job losses. Transport and logistics have also been significantly affected, with notable business closures and redundancies. Forecasts indicate that construction may recover quickly, and that strong jobs gains from 2010 onwards may occur in business and financial services, personal services, education and health, and retailing.”
In September 2009, the Insight East report ‘East of England Recession Impact’ suggested that the economy would contract by 4.1% by the end of 2009 but recover slowly in 2010 alongside the UK economy as a whole with growth of 0.3%. The report is optimistic for the region’s future, stating that the East of England economy “may recover faster than the UK, with projected gross value added (GVA) growth peaking at 3.9% in 2013 (compared to 3.6% in the UK)”.
The headline programmes are:
- Housing - Transport Regional plans - Utilities - Enterprise, business support and innovation The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) is responsible for improving the economy - Skills and employability - Culture, creativity and the visitor economy in the region. As such it prepared the regional - Green infrastructure, landscape, heritage, flood plan: and erosion risk management and the coast - The regional economic strategy – RES – ‘Inventing our future: Collective action for a While the third sector as a whole is mentioned sustainable economy. The regional economic throughout the implementation plan, social strategy for the East of England 2008-2031’ enterprises (specifically) are mentioned twice. It also contributed to the Government Office (GO) plan:
The areas hardest hit by rising unemployment have been Peterborough, Harlow, Basildon, - The regional spatial strategy – RSS – or ‘East Southend, Castle Point, Thurrock, Luton and of England Plan: The Revision of the Spatial Stevenage. The historical industrial structure of Strategy for the East of England’ these areas and their higher than regional average levels of unemployment before the start of the recession may have been contributory factors. 22
EEDA, East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) and the Government Office for the East of England (GO-East), set out how to reach the RES and RSS targets in a long-term implementation plan. This was consulted on in 2009 and the final version, revised on the basis of the consultation, was made available in early 2010.
Under the heading ‘Enterprise, Business Support and Innovation’ social enterprises are referenced as possible recipients, alongside other SMEs and start-ups, of small business loans. The loans
are for businesses with a workable business plan but who have not been able to obtain funding from the traditional sources. With regard to ‘Skills and employability’, the implementation plan states: “Increasingly, the third sector is making an important contribution to supporting and delivering services to excluded groups to increase levels of economic participation in the region’s economy.”
In line with this, EEDA’s Business Support Strategic Investment Plan states: “Some individuals and businesses need extra support over a longer period of time, above the Starting a Business offer. The Intensive Support is targeted at priority groups and areas, once the individual has attended a Business Link ‘starting a business’ workshop.” In the plan, social enterprises are considered a priority group for intensive start-up support.
In order to support third sector delivery on this theme, the implementation plan states there is a need to: - “engage with the third sector on strategic issues - work effectively with the third sector in delivering services - widen opportunities for the third sector to engage with service delivery, particularly through sub-contracting - ensure that social enterprises and voluntary organisations can access mainstream business support and workforce training - improve leadership and management in third sector organisations (as part of the Leadership and High-Level Skills programme).”
5. The operational and policy environment continued Political attitudes towards social enterprise The Labour government was in power for thirteen years and during this time showed a significant interest in social enterprise, publishing a social enterprise strategy in 2002, an action plan in 2006 and two action plan updates in the following two years. Government initiatives on social enterprise, personalisation and business support have had an impact on the direction and operational environment for social enterprises in the region. The February 2010 paper ‘Community Enterprise Strategic Framework’ issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), set out government commitments to community-based social enterprises, under the headings: dealing with improving business advice, information and support; tackling barriers to finance; enabling social enterprises to work with government; and fostering a culture of social enterprise. The Conservative party launched the paper ‘A stronger society: Voluntary Action in the 21st Century’ in June 2008, which made several references to the importance of social enterprises. In the Conservative paper, the focus was on making the most of civil society and of opening up public services to allow voluntary 24
and community groups and social enterprises to deliver. The paper was characterised by strong statements on how social enterprise and the wider third sector (incorporating charities and voluntary and community groups) could be of use within society. In the paper, social enterprises were commonly mentioned alongside voluntary and community groups and were seen to have similar areas of contribution to make. In February 2010, David Cameron renewed a 2007 pledge to give public sector workers the chance to form workers co-operatives to run public services. At a breakfast meeting in October 2009, the Social Enterprise Coalition, Local Government Association (LGA) and the Liberal Democrats came together to discuss how social enterprise supports the party’s agenda. Vince Cable showed interest in a continuing dialogue with social enterprises. The May General Election result of a parliament with no party having an overall majority means that at the time of writing it is not possible to identify a strategic framework in which social enterprises will be operating. The manifestos of the three major parties all pledged to create a role for social enterprises, mutuals, third sector organisations and community or employee led organisations delivering public services
and supporting local communities. There is, generally speaking, a greater commitment to localism than large regional infrastructure organisations and an increased role for local authorities in economic development. The most significant factor will be the public sector spending cuts required to reduce the national financial deficit in the wake of the banking crisis of 2007/8. This presents a threat to social enterprises that are heavily dependent on public sector contracts as well as the opportunities identified in the manifestos. Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, spoke to Social Enterprise Magazine just before the election and said that: “‘The Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have incorporated social enterprise into many of their key policies and, while that is a real win for the movement, added exposure inevitably creates some misunderstanding and misinterpretation. If the perception of it gets tied up with government policy or a narrow interpretation of what it is, it could set us back years,” He added that the sector now needed to ensure the concept of social enterprise did not become distorted.
5. The operational and policy environment continued
Worklessness as a priority In the current economic climate, the economic imperative to get people into work and to reduce overall unemployment has been substantially increased. The Houghton Review of March 2009 sets out the vital contribution and role that English local authorities and partnerships can and should play in tackling worklessness. The paper suggests they do this in a partnership framework which would explicitly include supporting social enterprises to make more of an impact. In the Conservative party paper ‘Get Britain Working’ social enterprises are mentioned as possible vehicles for creating jobs and mentoring young people into work, through ‘Work Pairing’ projects. Social enterprises are also seen as a way of catering to what the Conservatives see as a rising demand for business mentoring.
Local authorities Local authorities have undergone a number of policy-driven changes. The introduction of Local Area Agreements (LAAs) within ‘Strong and Prosperous Communities’, the Local Government White Paper 2006, changed the way local areas plan for the future and brought strategic partnerships of local agencies (LSPs) into the planning process. National indicators provide a framework of priority choices for local plans, none of which focus directly on social enterprise, but a number of which could include contributions by the sector. LAAs, or some form of local partnerships will increasingly become the vehicle for weaving together various strands of funding that can help to achieve locally identified priorities and make efficiency savings. EEDA has previously contributed to the resources of the partnership through the Economic Participation fund (previously Investing in Communities). In some local areas this was used to fund social enterprise support.
In October 2008, SEEE commissioned a review of LAAs commitment to social enterprise. It was found that social enterprise support could help start-up and existing social enterprises to contribute to economic participation national indicators such as NI7, NI171 and NI152. It is clear that a majority of top-tier local authority LAAs have committed to measure improvement against these indicators, either through agreement with GO-East or at a local level. However, the interviews with local authority and/ or LSP representatives suggested that a number of those in charge of overseeing the LAAs had little or limited understanding of the impact social enterprise could have on these indicators. In response to this finding SEEE has begun a programme of discussions at sub-regional level to raise awareness about, and enhance ongoing commitment to, supporting social enterprise. Other developments at local authority level include the introduction of a new duty to assess the economic impact of local authority services, introduced in the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill 2008. This changes economic development from a discretionary function and makes it a statutory obligation.
Further recent developments, such as ‘Total Place’, the re-organisation and rationalisation of the backroom services of key local public sector services providers, will have little time to emerge in practice before the general election and are therefore open to change depending on the election results. Nevertheless, all parties are aiming to make efficiency savings and it is likely that savings of this kind will be pursued regardless.
Individuals In response to the banking crisis of 2007/8, there has been a public debate relating to the ethics of maximising private profits and the bonus culture. In particular there has been concern about the relationship between wealth generating businesses and the societies and communities in which they operate. At the same time, large and well-established social enterprises such as the Co-operative Group and mutual building societies have promoted themselves as operating as part of society and communities and the benefits of having wider social and environmental impact. This appears to be creating a wider understanding within the general public about the issues that are important to the ways that social enterprises operate, such as ownership, accountability and how involvement in decision making can lead to a better quality of product or service.
Other national and regional strategies The current national Social Enterprise Action Plan, published in 2006 by the Office of the Third Sector and intended as a ten year plan, included the priorities: - Fostering a culture of social enterprise - Ensuring the availability of the right information and advice - Enabling access to proper finance - Enabling social enterprises to work with government In the 2008 paper, ‘Two Years On ‘, the latest priorities within the existing action plan were: - Measuring social value - Promoting social enterprise - Social investment - The potential of social enterprise within government departments Each of the nine English regions has a social enterprise strategy, action plan or vision. Not all of these are available via the internet. Most have not been updated since 2004 or earlier, so they do not necessarily reflect the English regions’ priorities in the current environment. Those of interest are detailed overleaf.
5. The operational and policy environment continued The most recently updated was the RISE Strategy ‘Championing social enterprise in South West England 2009 – 2012’. These were the overarching strategic objectives:
realise SEWM’s vision of a region in which social enterprises created economic benefits whilst building on social, environmental and mutual principles. These were:
- “Social enterprise is promoted as a significant trading option - Social enterprises are robust, thrive and become better businesses - There is wider understanding about the added value of social enterprises in South West England - RISE is a well run, effective social enterprise” Social Enterprise London’s (SEL) 2007 vision included the main headings:
- “Make social enterprise the first choice - Enable the social enterprise sector to thrive - Strengthen support to the sector.”
- “Poverty, inequality and disadvantage - Employment and employability - Housing and infrastructure” Social Enterprise London was developing a ‘Pan-London Social Enterprise strategy’ in 2009 to build on 2020 vision (the 2007 strategy). Consultation materials say the strategy should have been launched in September 2009 but it does not appear to have been published at the time of writing. Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM) published their prospectus: ‘Social Enterprise: The Time is Now’ in January 2010. The document identified three activities necessary to
In October 2009 the Social Enterprise Coalition published ‘A Strategy for the Social Enterprise movement to improve the engagement and support of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) social enterprises’. Rather than duplicate these specific needs in this strategy, the national BAME Strategy provides a useful reference guide for BAME issues.
Business support The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has established a simplified approach to all public funding of business support. Business Link is the national brand for providing publicly funded business support, offering a package of ‘Information, Diagnostic and Brokerage’ services, providing impartial assessment and advice and bespoke packages of support. There is a single portfolio of around 30 ‘products’ that will receive public funding, called Solutions for Business. Any business support that is provided must show how it links
with these products and should run in parallel with Business Link’s Information, Diagnostic and Brokerage services. The aim is to simplify the publicly funded support that is available to business so that they can more easily access the help they need. The Cabinet Office web summary of the recent ‘National Evaluation of the OTS Social Enterprise Business Support Improvement Programme Baseline Report’ stated that: “Social enterprises’ business support needs are broadly similar to those of mainstream businesses but the nature of the business model means it will always need a specialist support component.” The report showed that, while each region was providing social enterprise support in different ways: “Establishing strong relationships between the strategic partners appears to be a key factor in improving the business support environment for social enterprises.” The evaluation suggests that the best social enterprise support is based on a shared understanding in regional partners of organisational and operational roles and constraints. For this to happen, strategic leadership is important. 29
6. Summary and conclusion Social enterprises, support organisations and policy makers have reflected on the position of social enterprise development in the East of England at a time of change. With growing interest in - and commitment to - social enterprises there is some concern that too much energy will be used in meeting others’ objectives and expectations rather than providing practical support for this particular business model. Social enterprises strive to balance two sometimes conflicting objectives; meeting social goals while remaining viable as businesses. When this is achieved, social enterprises can help to meet the requirements of service users, public policy agendas, social and environmental objectives, and individual ‘ethical consumers’. In order to continue to do this they must earn enough income to keep producing the products or delivering the services that produce these benefits. This strategy aims to place social enterprises and their support needs at the centre of a changing agenda and to demonstrate ways in which others can assist them in achieving the vision of ‘a prosperous social enterprise sector in the East of England, based upon well-supported and empowered businesses with the capacity to develop individuals; resulting in high levels of social capital’. Social enterprises are businesses. They trade. This strategy identifies how they can be helped to do this and to contribute towards the well-being of individuals, communities and the economy of the East of England. May 2010 Authorship: Nicky Stevenson and Helen Fitzhugh, The Guild. Jo Ransom, Exemplas.
Supporting Documents Business and operational environment
Strategies and policy documents
- A new era for economic development? Implications of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill. (Centre for Local Economic Strategies Bulletin, 2009) - A review of LAAs to identify social enterprise commitment (Unpublished paper for SEEE, The Guild, 2008) - National Evaluation of the OTS Social Enterprise Business Support Improvement Programme – Baseline Report (Cabinet Office / Step Ahead Research, 2010)
- Inventing our future: Collective action for a sustainable economy. The regional economic strategy for the East of England 2008-2031 (East of England Development Agency, 2008) - East of England Plan: The revision to the Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England (Government Office for the East of England, 2008) - East of England Implementation Plan. How the region will deliver the East of England Plan and Regional Economic Strategy (EEDA, EERA, Government Office for the East of England, 2010) - EEDA’s Business Support Strategic Investment Plan 2009-2012 (EEDA, 2009)
- Social Enterprise: A strategy for success (Department for Trade and Industry, 2002) - Social Enterprise Action Plan: Scaling New Heights (Office of the Third Sector, 2006) - Social Enterprise Action Plan: One year on (Office of the Third Sector, 2007) - Social Enterprise Action Plan: Two years on (Office of the Third Sector, 2008) - A Strategy for the Social Enterprise movement to improve the engagement and support of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) social enterprises (Social Enterprise Coalition, 2009) - Championing social enterprise in South West England 2009 – 2012 (RISE, 2009) - Developing a pan-London social enterprise strategy (SEL, 2009) - Social Enterprise, The Time is Now: A prospectus. A vision for social enterprise in the West Midlands (SEWM, 2010)
Political responses to social enterprise - Community Enterprise Strategic Framework (Communities and Local Government, 2010) - A Stronger Society: Voluntary Action in the 21st Century (Conservative Party, 2008) - SEC Policy Insight newsletters
- Making @ living: Mapping the social economy in the East of England (The Guild, 2001) - State of Social Enterprise Survey 2009 (Social Recession Enterprise Coalition, 2009) - Social enterprise research and mapping in the - Labour Market Update 2009: Regional Labour East of England: A literature review (The Guild, Market statistics August to October 2009 2009) (Insight East, 2009) - National Survey of Third Sector Organisations - Tackling Worklessness: A review of the contribution and role of English local authorities (Ipsos Mori, 2008) and partnerships (Tackling Worklessness review, 2009)
Appendix Strategic objectives from the Social Enterprise Strategy for the East of England 2005: 1. To improve access to finance 2. To improve access to and relevance of learning opportunities for social enterprises and advisors 3. To make social enterprises better businesses 4. To enable existing social enterprises to grow 5. To promote the social enterprise sector 6. To enable social enterprises to access new markets 7. To enable voluntary and community organisations and traditional businesses that choose to do so, to develop social enterprises 8. To enable social enterprises and other stakeholders to work collectively towards shared goals and increased sustainability 9. To create an enabling environment for social enterprise
If you would like to know more information about social enterprise, the 2005 strategy, Social Enterprise East of England or the sector in the East of England please contact us in one of the following way: AddressSEEE Bedford i-Lab Priory Business Park Stannard Way Bedford MK44 3RZ Tel - 0845 606 6296 Fax - 01234 834 706 Email - firstname.lastname@example.org Website for information about SEEE members and the sector: www.seee.co.uk. Wikipedia website for sector reports, definitions: www.seeewiki.co.uk Online publications and think tank resources â€“ www.issuu.com/seee Follow us on Twitter : @SEeastofengland
Pictures - Page 7 - Produced in Norfolk, Branching Out - Page 16 - A Vision for Britain CIC - Page 17 - Community Music East, Norfolk Social Enterprise Network - Page 18 - Opportunities without Limits, winner of Photography Competition 2009, Hertfordshire Action on Disability, Millrace IT, - Page 23 -Hertfordshire Community Meals - Page 26- 4am for Arts and Music CIC, Community Music East Other action pictures throughout the Strategy are from assorted Social Enterprise East of England events, workshops, and networking days. The researchers would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to contribute to the development of this strategy. We are particularly grateful to all the social enterprises who took time away from running their businesses. This publication is also available to read online - www.seee.co.uk/thestrategy
Design: Liam Oâ€™Neill www.liamoneill.co.uk 35