SSE did something unusual this morning: attended a 7.30am breakfast meeting. Not renowned as early risers, Alastair and myself nevertheless made the exception to go to 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister, along with James Purnell, Hazel Blears, Liam Byrne and John Healey, was launching the Future Jobs Fund and, specifically, discussing how the third sector / social enterprise could contribute to it.
The Fund is, as people keep saying about the recession more generally, both an opportunity and a challenge for the sector. On the one hand, what an opportunity: if 10% of the £1bn fund can be pushed through social enterprises and charities on the ground, that could be potentially transformatory. On the other, it also requires, say, delivery of 10% of the outcomes (150,000 jobs, of which 100,000 for 18-24 year old, and of which 50,000 in the most disadvantaged areas) against fairly short-ish timelines. In the words of the mighty Adam Ant, very much time to stand and deliver.
Much of the talk round the table this morning was also about how it can be ensured that this opportunity is accessible to smaller players and, from an SSE point of view, to allow for the innovation / risk / time that start-up job creation brings (aka new social entrepreneurs from these kinds of backgrounds / areas / age groups). We'll certainly be following up on this with other organisational partners.
Great to see the breakfast prepared and served by Hoxton Apprentice trainees (congrats to them, and especially Leon who's a fantastic advocate for their work). Also good to see so many social enterprise ambassadors (Peter Holbrook, Dai Powell, Karen Lowthrop, Claudine Reid, Penny Newman, John Bird and SSE Fellow Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa) round the table: it was a good mix, I think, of such credible, experienced practitioners with second tier orgs such as ourselves, Social Firms, Social Enterprise Coalition, DTA etc
What is particularly encouraging is to see government departments working together in this way: DCLG, DWP and Cabinet Office, acknowledging that social enterprise and entrepreneurship is delivering outcomes across their departments, and seeking to make a breakthrough push of acceptance, awareness and resourcing.