Social enterprises are now established as part of the local network of providers.
Increasingly they bridge the public and corporate sectors as self-sufficient trading entities with public sector values. As austerity continues to bite, social enterprises will help localities retain a sense of community and offer an alternative to profit-focused provision.
Many social enterprises were helped to ‘spin-out’ from the public sector. They received practical help and advice, and the people running them were supported on their personal journey from public sector employment to running a business without any safety net. How will the next generation of social entrepreneurs mobilise, develop their service and grow?
Local solutions are needed to ensure that social enterprise is encouraged and equipped to offer an alternative. There is strong evidence that such organisations employ more local people and are more likely to be run by women, people from minority ethnic groups and younger people. They buy more of their services locally and reinvest profits in local causes, thus retaining more of the ‘£’ in the local community.
All this needs ‘financial lubrication’. €6.2bn will flow to local enterprise partnerships to drive economic growth and development and we recommend that LEPs allocate some funding to social enterprise development. This will contribute to job creation and economic growth in a way that supports the maintenance of the social fabric of the locality. This could help charities develop commercial ventures and develop local capability to deliver outsourced public services.
We have helped establish social enterprise businesses operating in the public sector space, so we know passionate people who want to run social enterprise businesses. These are people who have devoted their working lives to the public sector and believe in the value of the services they provide but they need practical help to get up and running.
LEP funding would enable the growth and development of these social enterprises in a local LEP setting. We are working with the leaders of public services who want to develop a compelling economic case for their local LEP to support.
It is a partnership between local stakeholders and the solution is unique to each area, offering help to the local LEP to drive economic growth through social enterprise development.
Paul Brown, partner, Baker Tilly, Paul.firstname.lastname@example.org, 01952 237700
Column sponsored and supplied by Baker Tilly