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Smoothing the way ahead

Over the past few years we have often looked forward to the “tipping point”, when social enterprise development really becomes a viable option for councils as they review the way in which they are carrying out their functions.

The enthusiastic take-up for this conference - of more than 130 delegates - illustrated this sea-change.

This was not a day when you just got nice smiles and pats on the back for your effort or your documents, it was a really get-down-to-business session and a “let’s make sure the speakers can show us we can do these projects and we get some answers to our questions”. Without a shadow of a doubt the conclusion of the session was that these projects are do-able.

When the NHS started to look at the creation of social enterprises a few years back, impetus was given to the agenda by the necessity for PCTs to transfer community health services.

There has not been such a “burning platform” for councils to spring-board off but what there is, finally, is a more clear combination of factors present which, when marshalled and aligned, are able to un-lock these new business structures. These critical factors that are being aligned more credibly include:

  • the absolute support and encouragement of the Cabinet Office
  • the ability to apply under the Right to Provide Guidance for Social Enterprise Investment Fund support
  • the developing Case for Change which is able to be presented to Councillors about the benefits of going down this route which the conference delegates felt very strongly needed to be made
  • the appetite to look more innovatively at the procurement issues particularly in an integrated health and social care arena and particularly given that the European Union is actively looking to support social enterprises spin-out

A lot has been done but there is a lot to do. The desire of the audience to continue to understand their issues and to problem solve has meant that we cannot let the conference be the end of this particular debate. Accordingly we have teamed up with the LGC to put on some ”Action Learning Sets”, a series of three roundtables between now and February designed to enable interested people to raise their own project issues, for example, staff and TUPE implications, pensions, business planning, due diligence and patient and public involvement matters and to have them solved by the group.

Chris Brophy, partner, Capsticks

Read Chris Brophy’s blogs at


Column Sponsored and Supplied by Capsticks

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