Monday, 12 April 2010

Labour election manifesto: Commitments to social enterprise

Included in Labour's general election manifesto, which was launched today, is a small section on social enterprise. These are the party's commitments:
  • The Social Investment Bank will make additional capital available to social enterprises with an initial endowment of £75 million funded by dormant accounts alongside existing funding streams.
  • Promote the creation of more social enterprise hubs in every community – helping more to get off the ground.
  • Extend the right of public-sector workers to request that they deliver frontline services through a social enterprise. Public-sector workers in the NHS currently enjoy this right.
  • More local organisations run on cooperative principles with an expansion of Community Interest Companies and third sector mutual organisations that reinvest profits for the public good. 
  • British Waterways will be turned into a mutually owned co-operative
  • Promote the use of community shares that support investment in football clubs, pubs, renewable energy and shops.
  • A National Youth Community Service, with the goal that all young people contribute at least 50 hours to their communities by the age of 19
It's good to see the sector now has a place in election manifestos and the commitment is welcome. However, I would also have liked to have seen something which addresses how CICs are structured with efforts put in place to make them more attractive to investors.

What do you think of the plans?


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Anonymous said...

Lots of stuff here that government can cheer on rather than actually deliver.

How is the government going to produce more CICs? Surely it depends whether some people want to start them.

Also not clear how central government will promote social enterprise hubs, beyond being happy if some people start them locally - is there a funding stream attached to that?

It'll be interesting to observe the expansion of right to request.

There hasn't been very much requesting so far in the NHS - I imagine there will be more across the public sector when workers are given the choice, possibly in a fairly indirect way, of 'start a social enterprise or get fired' but I'm not sure that's a good thing.

It will be interesting to see how many of the new enterprises formed will be sustainable businesses.

The case for the Social Investment Bank is, so far, a fairly weak one. It's a great source of lobby-based excitement but no one seems to have any convincing arguments about how it will fulfill a social and economic need.