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Progress for social enterprise bill

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A bill calling for all local enterprise partnerships to contain a third sector expert has won a second reading in the House of Commons.

Labour MP Jim Dobbin introduced the Co-operative and Social Enterprise (Development) Bill this week.

The private member’s bill would require all LEP boards to include a social enterprise leader alongside senior figures from councils and business.

Having been accepted by the House, the bill – which would also require LEPs to make specific plans for development of co-operatives – will be heard again on 6 June.

Mr Dobbin told MPs: “I have contacted many large and small co-operatives around the country during the development of my bill, and many have told me that they are currently struggling to engage with or understand the LEP process.

“As co-operators we passionately believe that the values and principles which underpin co-operatives and mutuals offer an alternative more ethical and democratic way for businesses to operate.

“We believe that all must be done to ensure a level playing field for their establishment and development.”

The coalition government created LEPS shortly after being elected in 2010, inviting businesses and councils to come together to encourage local economic growth.

Mr Dobbin added: “To be effective, it is crucial that LEPs include a cross-section of voices from across the communities they serve.

“Given the contribution made by co-operatives and social enterprises, it is only right that they are represented alongside and engage effectively with local authorities and traditional businesses on their boards.”

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