The Social Enterprise Guide

March 2, 2012

Social Enterprise UK  is the national body for social enterprise and has a wealth of information, news, advice and resources on it’s website here http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/.

The Social Enterprise Guide for people working in local government is full of really useful information and explains how social enterprises can help to meet many local authority strategic objectives, it also gives lots of practical advice about how teams within local authorities can engage with social enterprises to benefit their communities.

The guide contains some really useful information on the different legal models that social enterprises can take, ideas and information about commissioning and procurement and how to support the creation of social enterprises spinning out of the public sector.

The guide can be downloaded here: http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/uploads/files/2012/02/local_authority_guide_final1.pdf

The resource library is here: http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/advice-support/resources


January round-up

January 27, 2012

As the first month in 2012 draws to a close, there are a few things from the last month that might be of interest.

Firstly David Cameron made a speech on 19 January announcing that the Government will introduce a Cooperatives Bill to Parliament before the next election. Currently more than a dozen statutes govern cooperatives and mutuals, with many being outdated. The Government’s plan is to consolidate these into one statute to make it easier for people to set up and run a cooperative. Currently there are no further details on the content of the new Bill, other than the press release from 10 Downing Street, but as soon as there are they will be published on the toolkit.

The London Community Foundation (formerly Capital Community Foundation) have updated the list of grants they administer that are available to organisations in Lambeth. These include:

  • Lambeth Festivals and Outdoor Events Fund;
  • Lambeth Community Fund; and
  • Santander Social Enterprise Development Awards.

For more information on these funds and others, visit London Community Foundation’s website – you might want to consider signing up to the e-bulletin to receive news about the latest funding opportunities.

Moves continue at a national and European level to ensure public procurement rules can support local jobs and businesses. Chris White MP’s Private Member’s Bill has gone through its third reading in the House of Commons will receive its second reading in the House of Lords before the end of the month. The Public Services (Social Value) Bill aims to strengthen the social enterprise business sector and make the concept of ‘social value’ more relevant and important in the placement and provision of public services. If passed it will require local authorities, when entering into public procurement contracts, to give greater consideration to economic, social or environmental wellbeing during the pre-procurement stage.  More information can be found in an interview he gave to Third Sector News.

Just before the end of December, the European Commission published revised public procurement directives, following a consultation through 2011. The proposed changes include:

  • Greater flexibility to negotiate
  • Simpler rules on dynamic purchasing systems
  • The ability for procurers to evaluate suppliers’ past performance
  • Enablement of electronic marketplaces
  • More flexible and less burdensome rules on supplier selection
  • Faster procurement through shortened time limits

Further information on these proposed changes can be found on the Cabinet Office website.

The council has continued to look at procurement processes and a recent seminar for council officers explained how to include community benefits in new contracts and tender processes. The slides from the seminar are available here, and will be useful to both commissioners within the council and people from organisations interested in bidding for work with the council.

In December the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons published a report into the Government’s Big Society initiative. The Committee’s findings included a warning that the Government’s plans lack clarity and need an implementation plan, and that the Government should consider creating a ‘Big Society Minister’. The report also calls for greater clarity on the roles of charitable, private and public providers of public services and urges ministers to outline how issues of accountability in terms of quality and regulatory powers will be managed in the Big Society project, and in particular accountability for public expenditure.  The full report is available on the House of Commons website. Of particular interest to the cooperative agenda are the sections on Social Impact Bonds and Public Service Mutuals.


Employee ownership – some useful publications

December 8, 2011

Below are some really useful documents about employee ownership.

Time for Social Enterprise, a report from the Social Enterprise Coalition which was published in February 2011 includes interviews with people from the public, private and social enterprise sector and looks at what more needs to be done to enable social entrepreneurship in the UK. It has a particular focus on the issue of social value, and how this can be incorporated more into public procurement and society’s mindset more widely.

Model Growth, Do employee owned businesses deliver sustainable growth? is a research report looking at whether employee owned businesses deliver greater benefits than other business ownership models. The conclusions include the view that small- and medium-sized employee owned businesses (EOBs) do significantly better than non-EOBs; the profitability of EOBs correlates with giving employees greater autonomy in decision-making; and that EOBs are better employers not only in consistently recruiting more employees but also by rewarding them with higher wages. On the more negative side, EOBs confront more regulatory and policy challenges than non-EOBs, and they can have difficulties obtaining favourable financing from institutions that are more accustomed to dealing with listed companies.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on employee ownership produced a report in 2008 on how employee ownership is changing the face on business in the UK, including in relation to public services. Their conclusions in that regard are “that whilst the evidence base is currently, and inevitably, scanty with regard to the contribution of the co-owned sector to public service provision, it strongly suggests that coownership offers real potential as one model for public service provision, with some notable and powerful points of differentiation compared to other models, which underscore both performance improvement and public support and confidence.”

Some interesting food for thought. Enjoy!


Spin Out and Deliver – Social Enterprise London

November 25, 2011

Social Enterprise London (SEL) have published a new guide, Spin Out and Deliver, aimed at public sector workers who are considering setting up as a social enterprise. This short document contains useful information which has been drawn from interview SEL have conducted with people who are currently looking to “spin out” from council ownership to a social enterprise.

This guide forms part of a series of publications from SEL on spinning out, and they continue to conduct research into how public services are changing. Their emerging themes which are outlined in this report include:

  • The importance of leadership for organisations that spin out
  • The challenge of culture change – moving from working in the public sector to a social enterprise
  • The enthusiasm of front-line staff to move to a new model of ownership
  • Confusion over legal models, although the legal structure should fit the business not the other way around
  • Fears around staff transfer
  • The lack of time available to properly plan the development of the organisation
  • The lack of infrastructure support available to emerging spin-out organisations.

This guide also includes information about why establishing a social enterprise to run a public service can be a good idea; being an outstanding social enterprise leader; and steps to get started.

You can download a copy of Spin Out and Deliver, or any other SEL publications, from the SEL website.


Delivering children’s, youth and play services

November 25, 2011

Children’s, youth and play services are becoming some of the first to move to new models of ownership. The message below encouraging people to get involved is publicised across Lambeth over the next couple of weeks. If anyone is interested in being involved there are contact details at the end of the message. You can also find out more details about this project, and the other ‘early adopters’ on the council website.

Lambeth is becoming a cooperative council and is committed to a new way of working. Over the past few months we have been working with a wide range of partners and stakeholders to develop a cooperative approach to service delivery in the following areas:

  • Youth centres
  • Adventure playgrounds
  • Stay and Play One O’clock clubs, and
  • Young and Safe (a project for young people who are at risk of serious youth offending).

This approach will see collaboration between different stakeholders and be defined by:

  • Localism – engagement and involvement of local communities
  • Co–production – so that local communities and stakeholders are involved in deciding what and how services should be delivered
  • Developing cooperative models for service delivery that include mutual’s, lead partner organisations, friends of groups
  • Community commissioning – local people deciding which services should be commissioned to support young people.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the delivery of these services, or working with others to deliver them, please call 020 7926 3778 or email cooperativecouncil@lambeth.gov.uk by Friday 9 December 2011.


Grants and other funding

September 7, 2011

There are some great local resources available if you are looking to set up or expand a community group or project.

On the council website there is a regular update on community funding which lists the national, regional and local funding that is currently available. It won’t capture each and every available fund, but is fairly comprehensive. It is split into four sections – key opportunities, capacity building, main small funds and lucky dip.

Also useful is the Capital Community Foundation’s (CCF) grants list for Lambeth. CCF both administer a number of grants, such as the various strands of the Lambeth Community Fund, and also signposting others.

Social Enterprise London have a long list of organisations that fund and support social enterprises. This covers start-up finance as well as other loans and grants and is well worth a look.

Lambeth Voluntary Action Council have Funderfinder and GrantsFinder which are computer software programmes that help organisations find trusts and funders that might support their work.

Lambeth Voluntary Action Council also has a Funding Advice Project to provide information, advice and support on all matters associated with fundraising to voluntary and community sector organisations based in Lambeth. Support is only available to small – medium organisations (i.e. those with 140 or less paid staff hours per week) and to organisations that are formally set up (i.e. a management committee and governing document in place). For support contact Aleya Chowdhury, Capacity Building Officer (Funding Advice), on 020 7737 9477 (Tuesday and Wednesday only) or email fa@lambethvac.org.uk.

Have you applied for any grants to support your projects? If so, please share your experience and tips for success in the comments below. It would also be good to hear if there are any other external funding sources that people know are available.


Thinking about communications and marketing?

August 30, 2011

If you’re thinking about setting up a mutual or cooperative organisation, you will need to think about your communications and marketing. You’re likely to need to attract business (either customers or contracts), plus you’ll want the local community to be aware of you are and what you do.

Here are some places you might be able to get help and advice about communications and marketing:

Finally, a tip from someone in the know – social enterprises with a good website, logo etc. get by though finding a good tech savvy volunteer.