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 Conservatives.com (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?