‘We are such spendthrifts with our lives, the trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster. I’m not running for sainthood. I just happen to think that in life we need to be a little like the farmer, who puts back into the soil what he takes out.’ ― Paul Newman : Actor
Sustainability, going green, recycling, food waste, ethical business, community, evironmentally friendly, food labelling, consumer responsibility – Google any keyword from the above and acres of electronic landscape will open up on your screen and tantalise you with calls for their individual priority.
But to make the world sustainable, right down to the house on the corner, or the single desk at your child’s school, we need a new narrative. One that is, effectively, a moderated form of capitalism…Social Enterprise is it.
Attempting to break completely the bio-rhythms of a capitalist system, arguably embedded in this country from 1750 and the start of the Industrial Revolution, is a very hard thing. To moderate behaviour, or flex direction of travel, is much easier.
If Social Enterprise is the deployment of business enterprise, not for gross personal profit, but to serve up a solution to a community need, then Social Procurement should be the keyword search to trump all others.
“Our entire system, in an economic sense, is based on restriction. Scarcity and inefficiency are the movers of money; the more there is of any resource the less you can charge for it. The more problems there are, the more opportunities there are to make money.
This reality is a social disease, for people can actually gain off the misery of others and the destruction of the environment. Efficiency, abundance and sustainability are enemies of our economic structure, for they are inverse to the mechanics required to perpetuate consumption.’ – Peter Joseph
‘Simply put, social procurement means buying regular goods and services directly or indirectly from social enterprises’.
In her article, Rebecca is rightly keen to focus on the high value SocEnt’s place on innovation and risk depletion. At the heart of a SocEnt lies not only care for community, not personal profit, but for also maximising community benefit .
This is the tipping point in the established supply chain, that can flex traditional corporate procurement policy and action to favour the SocEnt supplier.
In doing so, the vast corporate spend on Corporate Responsibility and Risk Mitigation can be resolved to a SocEnt procurement locus that presents the rationalisation and delivery of an agenda which guarantees ethical supply and community safety at a stroke.
As Dray would have it ‘…By nature of their social and environmental mission they also reduce environmental impact, avoid modern slavery, tackle water scarcity and so much more‘.
We can now, perhaps, slightly shade the Dray definition for Social Enterprise to read…
A social enterprise is a legal and social entity of moderated capitalism, that seeks through Social Procurement, to temper and dissolve the social ills of profit pursuit for damaging personal gain.
Not so fluid, perhaps, but effective none the less, we would argue.
The embrace of a telling argument and practical philosophy, Social Enterprise, must however be matched by the equally telling embrace of traditional business. To moderate or flex, as a goal, will always be more effective that outright revolution.
We also need to convince the non-SocEnt market of the need to join forces with our new movement.
Pat Villaceran, in a recent article on LinkedIn, entitled ‘5 Reasons Business Executives Stray Away From Social Movements‘, nicely frames the arguments corporate procurement specialists use to deflect social procurement innovation. Arguing, in the article, that the unwritten message from corporate institutions is that social entrepreneurship is somehow a less effective, minority and part-time project.
The Villaceran thesis debunks these arguments and presents evidence, very useful if you are pitching to a procurement team, just why the SocEnt supply decision is the right one. We recommend it to our readers.
Anna Birley and The Co-operative Party have produced a really useful guide to what Community Wealth Building is, in terms of definition, ideas for local action and how to campaign for effective local policy change.
‘The Summit is for anyone who wants to build an economy that works for all. Over the last ten years, Community Wealth Building ideas have been taken up and applied by an ever-growing number of socially minded businesses and social and public sector organisations across the regions and countries of the UK.
This event will bring together people from across these sectors and places, from local authorities and credit unions to community owned football clubs and hospitals’.
We will be there? Will you? Make a long weekend of it and support the local economy in the North West too!
The SocEntEastMids team:
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Taking place on May 21st, 2019 at Mary Ward House in London, the organisers aim to delve ‘…into different practical support that can allow all organisations to progress towards a healthy and sustainable future, while also making sure that we don’t forget about our own well-being and the human behind the social entrepreneur‘.
Early bird tickets are just now available and you can see the range of ticket types available for this significant SocEnt event here.
You can see the key themes of this year’s conference, and review the speakers of note from last year’s event on the BGB web pages. See more: https://beyondgoodbusiness.co.uk/
Perhaps we’ll see you there?
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‘TV architect and Big Issue cover star George Clarke’s petition, aimed at persuading the government to build 100,000 council houses a year, wins massive approval on its first day…’ Source: Big Issue
Working in communities, for us, involves delivering free support and resources to the nascent individual social entrepreneur or the community group, incorporated or not, involved in the transition to an active community focused business.
The nature of developing community business, or individual entrepreneurship, often involves a wider dialogue about social policy and the quality of life for residents in the broadest terms. Housing is often part of that narrative.
SocEntEast Mids does not offer advice on matters concerning investment, banking or legality. We freely collaborate with community players to share our decades of aggregate experience in community development and enterprise engagement.
That said, as the conversation in the meeting room, or community centre eddies and swirls towards a conclusion, it is useful to be able to tender some broad signposting around themes of concern, as part of that engagement process.
The narratives, data and contacts below, all freely available in the public domain, are an attempt to provide such a signpost.
A really useful place to start is the Power to Change: Business in Community Hands pages. here you can find grants that ‘…support projects that build of refurbish affordable homes’.
Homes in Community Hands ‘…are focusing on community groups in the early stages of their community-led housing development to support feasibility and predevelopment work, leading up to submitting a planning application. Our research has shown that is where funds are needed most to get projects moving’.
Community-led housing schemes empower people, enrich local communities and improve the lives of residents. They can breathe new life into a village by offering affordable homes below market rate to families that are priced out of the area they live and work in.
The authors argue that CLT’s are a currently under deployed tool for community social enrichment, but non the less, this paper highlights the context of the mechanism and is, in our opinion, particularly honest and useful in making an assessment of obstacles and pinch points in any community housing scheme.
CAF and Power to Change also have a useful web article on a new source of funding available – Blended Finance Available for CLT’s. Authored by Anne-Helene Sinha, it is a new and pioneering offer in the marketplace.
Johnson’s argument is, essentially, that investors with a conscience can all help to alleviate the current housing crisis by investing in the sector. He is also strong on the weakness and re-directions of central government in the housing mix over time…
…blame can be laid at the door of government. In 2009 (the last full year of Gordon Brown’s administration), Whitehall provided £11.4bn towards the cost of building homes. By 2015 (under David Cameron’s Conservative-led coalition), this had over halved to £5.3bn. More pertinently, perhaps, in terms of GDP, the fall is even more dramatic – it has dropped from 0.7 per cent to 0.2 per cent.
A depressing tale, well told with numbers to underscore the disparity of supply versus demand.
More useful links for data and context:
The Plan to End Homelessness, by Crisis, is also another salutory lesson in how housing and welfare policies have failed to work effectively, either with each other, or with the homeless to create sustainable and affordable solutions to the present crisis.
SocEntEastMids does not offer banking, finance or legal advice. Our free resources and support is dedicated to sharing our decades of community enterprise experience collaboratively with the nascent social entrepreneur or ethical business minded community group.
We are happy to have a ‘social enterprise’ conversation at any time, and to donate free resources, to foster the aims of the sector.
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To Nottingham, on Friday 15th February 2019 – to attend the launch of a new programme of support for budding social entrepreneurs from OLMEC.
Olmec’s mission is ‘...race equality through economic and social justice‘, and we are delighted, at SocEntEastMids to be able to support the work.
First Steps In Social Enterprise is free and open to existing and aspiring social entrepreneurs from BME (Black and Ethnic Minority) backgrounds – across the Nottingham and Derby area.
Are you a sole trader, or have a skill and want to develop a business that benefits the community?
Have a social enterprise idea / social enterprise at an early stage?
Want to develop a social enterprise model from an existing community organisation?
Are an entrepreneur that wants to develop a social enterprise?
Are a working and/or living in Nottingham or Derby?
‘The programme is designed to support aspiring social entrepreneurs’ ideas through a structured 12-week programme and 9 months online support including access to a moderated FaceBook group with online training.’ Source: OLMEC web pages
Applications Open February 15th
Applications close March 15th
Interviews March 19th to 21st
3-month programme runs March 23rd to June 15th
Online support runs to March 31st 2020
You can view, print or download the application form and details below…
We convened in the performance space at New Art Exchange on Gregory Boulevard, an ideal setting for an entrepreneurial engagement. Inspirational speakers, good food and coffee and an opportunity to discuss early ideas in an encouraging and non-critical atmosphere.
‘Languages are for everyone! Enjoy learning two or more languages with our products, games and guides.
Lil’ollo is for young learners from birth onwards, whether you are speaking several languages fluently at home or just getting started. Join our free club to receive free products, guides and more’. (A beautifully designed resource…Ed.) See more here...
‘Created by family history historian, founder of Every Generation Media and Windrush Generation campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE, this storytelling board game is designed to keep the stories and history of the Windrush Generation alive. It helps families, friends and communities share their heritage, family history, identity and culture through the sharing of stories.’ See more here… ( A great resource to keep oral history and family knowledge alive and resonant…Ed.)
A great day, a great community and an important programme for the early social business man or woman. Apply today, we recommend it!
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The Office for National Statistics has just released updated estimates of the value of human capital. For ONS ‘… the stock of human capital accounts for what skills people have and how much they earn and what qualifications they have, as well as estimating how much longer they will continue to work’.
As such, ONS argues, the value of human capital is often higher in younger workers, which have more years in the labour market ahead of them.
We can look to the historical writings of Adam Smith for the source of the concept for Human Capital, but we owe the the modern Chicago School of economists for this contemporary application of the theory, we would argue.
This modern theory was popularized by Gary Becker, an economist and Nobel Laureate from the University of Chicago, Jacob Mincer, and Theodore Schultz. However, more recently the new concept of task-specific human capital was coined in 2004 by Robert Gibbon, an economist at MIT, and Michael Waldman, an economist at Cornell. The concept emphasises that in many cases, human capital is accumulated specific to the nature of the task (or, skills required for the task), and the human capital accumulated for the task are valuable to many firms requiring the transferable skills.
The new ONS report delineates the following key estimates…
In cash terms the stock of human capital in the UK grew 1.8%. However, once the effects of inflation were removed human capital actually fell by 0.8%. This was the first fall in human capital stocks since 2012, reflecting slower growth in earnings relative to inflation.
In 2017, the UK’s ‘real’ full human capital stock was £20.4 trillion, more than 10 times the size of UK GDP.
The estimates highlight that in 2004 the pay premium for obtaining a degree was 41% but by 2017 this had fallen to 24%.
The ONS analysis also shows that between 2011 to 2017 the average stock of individuals over 35 grew by 7.0%, while the stock of those between 16 and 35 only grew by 3.6%.
We recently published The Size of the UK Social Enterprise in 2018 – if we believe, as we do, that the social economy is now a significant influencer of UK trade and business development – then it is pertinent to note that the value of ‘real’ gross human capital is ten times more than GDP.
The social economy must, therefore be a contributor to this value.
Also of note, is the fact that in terms of human capital, according to ONS, … the average stock of individuals over 35 grew by 7.0%, while the stock of those between 16 and 35 only grew by 3.6% over the focus period.
Whether being old and feeling exposed when out after dark, or in full employment but doubting that the employment will continue beyond six months hence, the report offers a defining argument for the deployment of economic and social initiatives that put people, their sense of well being and compassionate economic energy at the heart of government thinking.
It is interesting that even across international borders, within Europe, the similarities in unease and concerns are duplicated across communities, whatever their defining local language.
‘Most of the insecurities reviewed in this policy brief have an economic component but are influenced by other factors too. For instance, perceptions of housing insecurity are influenced by tenant protection law, perceptions of old-age income insecurity are influenced by long-term care provision, and perceptions of healthcare insecurity are influenced by the presence or absence of healthcare coverage’.
The significance of having a ‘secure’ life is widely recognised. The United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights tells us that everyone has the right to ‘security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his (or her) control’ (Article 25).
In the key findings of the report it is stressed that ‘…only 1% of the EU population enjoys the highest level of security in all five types of social insecurity studied in this brief: personal, housing, healthcare, employment and old-age income. If more types were added, there might be nobody in the EU who feels free of any form of social insecurity’.
The five key measures of insecurity that the report comparatively assesses are…
…personal insecurity – of being personally unsafe (from crime, for instance)
…housing insecurity – of losing one’s home
…healthcare insecurity – of being unable to afford healthcare
…employment insecurity (for those in employment) – of losing one’s job and
being unable to find a new one
…old-age income insecurity – of not having an adequate income in old age
In their policy summary the report authors point out that government and state actors in the provision of services ‘…should be careful not to underestimate how widespread feelings of social insecurity are, especially more moderate forms. These may be early indicators of problems, so preventative policy-making should try to detect better, more muted levels, as well as higher levels of insecurity’.
This report attempts a broad assay of community feelings across Europe. No small scoping exercise in itself, but when executed as here, then it provides a wealth of evidence and support for the argument that the social enterprise model should become the defining economic and civitas service provision model.
We would argue!
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Civil Society Strategy: building a future that works for everyone
‘This Strategy sets out how government will work with and for civil society in the long-term to create a country that works for everyone’.
The current Government published this strategy on the 9th August 2018. It is a large document, a big strategic picture is delivered, and there is little that can be critiqued in mere observational mode.
The difference will be measured in the coming years of political turbulence, and how the new, adjusted and revitalised civil society arrangements in the document will have been implemented, or abandoned.
3. THE SOCIAL SECTOR: supporting charities and social enterprises
Published 9 August 2018
Charities and social enterprises － ‘the social sector’ － are the core of civil society. A healthy, independent, and engaged civil society is a hallmark of a thriving democracy. A robust sector is a sign of a confident democracy, which offers many ways in which citizens’ views and concerns can be amplified. This country has a long tradition of philanthropic organisations, both small and large, set up independently of government to respond to the challenges of society. A poignant example is civil society’s role with regards to combating threats to democracy, ensuring that broad debate and political campaigning continue to thrive, online as well as offline. It is essential that these organisations can access the necessary support to adapt to meet the challenges of the future.
Throughout this Strategy there are proposals that will benefit social sector organisations. For instance, in Chapter 1 we talk about citizens, including young people, in supporting society. In Chapter 2 we describe place-based investment and empowerment. Chapter 4 describes a range of benefits that business, the finance sector and new technology can bring to civil society. In Chapter 5 we explain plans to reform commissioning in favour of charities and social enterprises.
There remains a range of issues concerning the role and management of social sector organisations themselves, which are dealt with in this chapter, namely the sector’s voice, its funding, its leadership, support, regulation, and its digital capability.
Significant steps are already being taken from within the social sector to address these issues. The government cannot and should not ‘lead’ or organise civil society. But the government has a clear role to play, including where only the government can act, or where government intervention has the potential to offer significant additional value.
In particular the government is keen to work alongside the social sector to realise a future in which organisations are able to adapt and thrive, strengthen public trust and find new ways to resource and deliver their missions. This includes all in the sector feeling that their voice is respected in policy debates, where there is strong support available and ongoing and effective investment in leadership and governance. Finally, the government wants charities and social enterprises to be able to employ strong digital skills to deliver social good.
Mission 6: the voice of civil society
The rules on campaigning
Civil society has a long and proud tradition of campaigning for change and providing voice for the disempowered and disadvantaged in society. Civil society organisations have successfully campaigned for changes in the law and national policy, and at local level supporting access to services and challenging public sector organisations to improve.
Charity law enables charities to undertake campaigning, including political activity, to support the delivery of their charitable purposes. Charity law prohibits charities from supporting a political party or candidate. It is also right that we have a longstanding framework under Electoral Law to provide transparency of third party campaigning in the period before an election. This is necessary to ensure that an election outcome cannot be unduly influenced through excessive spending.
Some civil society organisations believe that the space for campaigning and advocacy has closed in recent years, creating a ‘chilling effect’ on civil society campaigning and advocacy.1
Evidence from the engagement exercise is that the government should improve its engagement with civil society, consult charities, and community groups, consider what is said and be transparent about decision-making, include diverse civil society voices in policy development, and that beneficiaries especially young people should be engaged and involved in policy making in a meaningful way. One organisation of many stressed during the engagement exercise that charities “play a vital role in shining a light on key issues and the government should support and champion them in doing this”.
The government is ambitious to play a key role internationally in standing up for free speech and a vibrant civil society.
Hearing from civil society
The government is determined that charities and social enterprises should be fully confident in their right to speak in public debates, and to have a strong campaigning and advocacy role. It is right that we have government grant standards which prevent taxpayers’ money being spent on political campaigning or lobbying. However, simply being in receipt of taxpayers’ money should not inhibit charities from making their voices heard on matters of policy or practice.
The government is committed to embedding open policy making across departments － giving civil society significant opportunities to achieve policy change － and is currently developing a commitment to this as part of the UK’s next National Action Plan for Open Government.2
The government also recognises that there is a job to do to reach a collective approach across Whitehall in the way that we work with and for civil society. We are therefore keen to get our internal workings in order to ensure that we effectively join up at crucial stages of policy development to reflect the voice of the sector and to obtain valuable and early insight into how our policies are likely to impact communities and the sector. As mentioned in other chapters, strong partnership working with the sector is key to effectively deliver policies that tackle a number of issues faced by communities and to strengthen the resilience of the sector.
The government will renew its commitment to the principles of the Compact. The Compact is a document that sets out a series of principles and commitments governing the relationship between the social sector and the government. It was last published in 2010.3
The government will convene a cross-government group to work with civil society to establish the principles of effective engagement in the policy-making process, learning from the examples of good practice that already exist. This includes a focus on the effective engagement of young people (see ‘Young people and national policy design’.
The government will work with civil society, the Electoral Commission and the Charity Commission to explore what other non-legislative steps could strengthen civil society’s confidence in its campaigning and advocacy role.4 For example, the Electoral Commission has already started work on improving its third party campaigning guidance for civil society organisations.
Victoria Atkins MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability says:
Knowing the issues that affect the most vulnerable in our society is the first step towards finding solutions and bringing justice to a community. Charities and the social sector play a vital role in representing people who are unable to advocate for themselves to ensure that the right policies and programmes are in place to protect the most marginalised in our society.
Imagine living with an aggressive partner － coerced and violently attacked in your own home, sometimes for decades – and too scared to speak out for fear of retribution. Or being trafficked from another country and not being able to make or exercise any choices free from duress, pressure or undue influence in order to protect oneself from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The reality is that there are many people whose individual circumstances preclude them from being able to take part fully in important decisions or even discussions that they themselves are the subject of.
In my previous career as a criminal barrister I specialised in prosecuting serious organised crime so I saw how law abiding people could be exploited by criminal gangs. As Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, it is my responsibility to ensure the Home Office is taking the best possible action to protect the most vulnerable and prevent exploitation and criminality.
We frequently rely on the charity sector often working in partnership with the police to flag issues that we need to be aware of and we work in partnership with them to decide on the best options going forward. We are committed to introduce a landmark Domestic Abuse Bill to further transform the response to these heinous crimes. We have also recently published a Serious Violence Strategy which sets out the government’s response to serious violence and recent increases in knife crime, gun crime and homicide. The strategy focuses on early intervention and prevention which can help catch young people before they go down the wrong path into situations where they are exploited frequently as drug runners and through threat and violence to prop up criminal networks.
Delivery of the Modern Slavery Act relies on our social sector partners working alongside charities to ensure that supply chains and other situations where bonded labour or other forms of exploitation may be involved are identified and dealt with. We work closely with a wide range of civil society organisations, including specialist victim support services, to support delivery of our work. Freeing the nation from the cruel acts of modern slavery and other forms of exploitation remains a priority for the Home Office and the UK government and it is only by working in partnership that we can achieve our aims.
The nominations list for the 2018 UK Social Enterprise Awards have just been published.
What a cavalcade of fantastic projects, across many impact themes, and a wide geographical spread. The list itself is evidence alone of a thriving, multi-dimensional social enterprise topography in the UK.
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