Cameron’s social enterprise zones part 3 (feedback)

I promise this blog will move away from the Tory proposals released this week, but thought I would just add some more stuff from various responses:

– the response to his article on the Guardian letters page: these discuss (paraphrasing wildly) big vs. small third sector orgs; inequality in the sector (more widely); support sector-related bills if you care so much…; you appear to have missed this great initiative, Mr Cameron; back to Victorian times, cloaked in Tory spin; welcome, but remember social enterprise and vol sector are intrinsically linked (that from NCVO); and Tory councils actions don’t match your words….

– Detailed sector response in Third Sector which includes the following:

– Social Enterprise Coalition saying social enterprises can operate anywhere, so why focus only in areas of deprivation
– Social Enterprise London agreeing, though saying that "Social enterprises form natural clusters where communities have had to look at innovative ways to improve local services"
Phil Hope, the minister, calling the proposals "uncosted gimmicks"

Share Button

Cameron’s social enterprise zones part 2

So the Conservative plans that were trailed on the radio were released today, with an article by David Cameron in the Guardian. Key quotes? "The social enterprise is the great institutional innovation of our times" (which one of the comments underneath refers to as "nonsense on stilts"); "We need a more fine-grained approach to tackle multiple deprivation at the micro-level" (neighbourhood rather than local authority?); "The answer lies in communities themselves, not in well-meaning schemes directed from Whitehall"; and "the smaller, locally based voluntary organisations, which are often the
most effective at combating entrenched deprivation, are losing out to
the large national operations"
. It then goes on to detail the social enterprise zones, tax breaks and planning exemptions I mentioned yesterday.

A few emerging reports on this, of course, with most focusing on the tax breaks element, as with the BBC report Tories consider social tax breaks.  More tomorrow, no doubt…you can read the actual report via (I particularly enjoyed, after posing the question of whether all the various govt-led initiatives have achieved success in regeneration terms, the following: "It is not, of course, possible to give a definitive answer to this important question. As Chou En-lai once remarked when asked whether the French Revolution had been a success, it is too early to tell.")

From our point of view, SSE seeks to establish its franchise centres in areas in need of regeneration, so the (re)focus on social entrepreneurship as a means of addressing (multiple) deprivation is to be welcomed. As is a focus on what the report calls the "waste of human talent" in such areas: precisely the people we aim to help. Any incentives are also welcome, and the report has some common sense things to say about why some social enterprises have chosen a charitable structure for (largely) tax reasons. As ever, though, all our research shows access to capital and financial incentives will achieve little without tailored, long-term support. A message which we hope both parties have heard and taken on board by now. An SSE in every SEZ, perhaps?

Share Button

Social enterprise zones and tax breaks

Listening to Radio 4 on Sunday night, my non-work thoughts were broken by social enterprise featuring on Westminster Hour. The Conservatives are releasing their Social Enterprise Policy Group report this week, the recommendations in which will include social enterprise zones (in deprived areas) and tax breaks within those zones for investors (to allow more equity / patient capital), as well as some planning exemptions for brownfield development for social enterprises. No great surprises there for anyone who heard Oliver Letwin speak in January at Voice 07 where he talked about, well, zones and tax breaks (and patient finance). But it keeps it on the agenda, and the ideas neither massively excite nor appal me. So they’re probably quite sensible.

The programme is worth listening to again, not least because after speaking to the Conservatives (Greg Clark), it then speaks to Cherry Read of the Social Enterprise Coalition, and then the new Minister for the Third Sector. She said the Tory plans were unambitious, and that Labour were yet to really grasp that social enterprise was about changing mainstream business, not just about charities breaking even. Phil Hope, the new minister, then came on to say that, well, they did understand that, dismissed the Tory plans ("uncosted tax breaks", "no new money" social enterprise viewed by Tories as "cheap alternative") before talking about procurement, Futurebuilders/Capacitybuilders, voice as well as delivery and a bit more procurement (3rd sector orgs should bid jointly or bid to be subcontractors etc for big contracts).

Nothing revelatory to any sector-heads, with the usual 55,000 figure trotted out, and the usual arguments (Labour are bureaucratic, paperwork-heavy and centralist, Conservatives are  promising without costing and looking to abdicate responsibility for public services; sector demands more from both…). It was interesting to hear SeedCo being rolled out to question the whole social enterprise concept. Regular readers will remember various people (including myself) putting them to the sword in previous posts (here and here); to quote one US blog, "Seedco [are] one of the least informed and most inept players to have dabbled in the nonprofit Social Enterprise field". But they have featured in a Wall Street journal article, so that’s presumably why Radio 4 picked them. Hey ho.

It’s not a podcast, so you have a week to listen to the programme; if you miss it, why not try out some of the snippet 3 minute Social Enterprise podcasts available from Kibble. Although there is slightly irritating ambient music behind all of them (at least the ones I’ve listened to), there’s some decent people they’ve picked up at various events: Ed Miliband, Tim Smit and US legend Jerr Boschee.

Share Button

July round-up of social enterprise / entrepreneurship news

So the SSE blog has been on leave for much of July, returning to website bugs, a broken server and a busted printer (these things only happen when you’re away). Marvellous. But, more interestingly, and all end-of-holiday bitterness aside, there’s plenty to catch up on as well. Having trawled through an inbox the size of Brazil and an aggregator as populated as Beijing, we’re ready to roll:

– SSE gets a mention in this article in the Sunday Times on philanthropy

– The ambassadors programme, of which SSE is a partner, was officially launched with a first wave of celebrity ambassadors including John Bird, Liam Black, Penny Newman and Tim "Apprentice" Campbell. See articles in the Telegraph and Guardian. 20 further regional ambassadors to follow: download the application pack or read more here (official website to come soon).

– While we’re on govt, the Comprehensive Spending Review reported. £515 million for the Third Sector apparently…and largely warm-ish reception to it.

– Gordon Brown, in association with Community Links, also released a book on the same day (Everyday Heroes): see the CL website for more.

– Couple of interesting think-tank publications: the Social Return on Investment Guide from NEF and Unlocking Innovation from Demos

– Re. measurement of social impact, I was also interested to read Patrick Butler’s take this morning on New Philanthropy Capital’s report on child abuse charities; as a critic of the Full Stop awareness-raising campaign myself for some time, personally (in a judgemental, ill-informed "why do NSPCC need to spend millions to keep child abuse on the radar, when it’s rarely out of the papers/public eye" kind of way), it’s interesting to read that "there is zero evidence that this leads to fewer beatings", and the final sentence is a pretty cutting sideswipe: "[NSPCC] will survive the NPC report, but it should regard it as a timely
wake-up call- a reminder that donor money should go to what works.
Everything else is marketing."

–  Intelligent Giving, run by SSE Fellow Dave Pitchford, has also been recognised for encouraging greater openness and transparency in the third sector, most recently by winning a New Media award from the New Statesman. Other winners include the ubiquitous MySociety, David Cameron and several other interesting sites. Check out the nominees for more of interest.

– Over on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, there’s an interesting thread on how non-profits should "lose the marketing department", to which one is tempted to reply "if we had one!", but it’s actually quite interesting, arguing that:

t’s everyone’s job to create memorable, exciting programs that donors can love and support.

It’s everyone’s job to take part in the conversation that’s forming around the things you impact.

It’s everyone’s job to know, understand, and respect donors

Difficult to argue with that really. It’s a bit like how, particularly in a small organisation, everyone is a fundraiser as well. Which can have huge benefits in terms of everyone pulling together / creating and reading from the same page….

– Mel Young is really admired in SSE as an impressive social entrepreneur, and the Homeless World Cup is an amazing initiative which goes from strength to strength. Read about the 2007 event.

– I enjoyed this post by Rob Greenland on the need for "hunger" as an entrepreneur, and how this relates to economic position (unemployed / giving up a job). Our experience somewhat reflects his points, although it’s also worth noting that hunger/passion/drive can obviously come from a personal motivation / personal experience as well as being driven by financial necessity.

–  Centre for Social Justice gave out its 2007 awards; worth a look

– Loads more, but here’s a few final interesting bits and bobs: non-profit mash-ups; social change websites directory; a wikimindmap of social enterprise; fairtrade and openness as the future.

Share Button