Since 1997, the UK Government has been a strong supporter of social enterprise. The
UKCoalition Govt has made equally positive noises – but coming from a different
perspective. Whilst much is made of the Big Society, backed up by the Community
Organisers Programme, their vision for social enterprise seems very much to rest on the
outsourcing of public services, thereby creating a thriving market within which social
enterprises could flourish.
o Strategic Partners - The Office for Civil Society (OCS) has now identified its 9
`strategic partners` for period 2011-14, 5 of which are made up of multiple
o Community Organisers - is a new Govt initiative that will be recruiting, training,
hosting and networking 5,000 community organisers across England in the next
four years. The Programme will be managed by Locality (merger of DTA and
Local public sector support for social enterprise is going through a period of transition
with new initiatives being announced by the UK Coalition Govt. Regional Development
Agencies (RDAs) have been replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships and, as yet,
social enterprise’s involvement is not clear. The budget in March also saw Govt increase
the number of Enterprise Zones from 10 to 21. Business Links still exist, but are now
more of a web interface
o Local Enterprise Partnerships – The UK Govt has announced 30 Local
Enterprise Partnerships to replace the Regional Development Agencies.
Their role will be to deliver Government objectives for economic growth and
decentralisation with local authorities working together with business. Role of
social enterprise is yet to be determined.
o Local Enterprise Zones – the UK Govt is creating 21 Enterprise Zones,
within local enterprise partnerships areas. They will have simplified planning
rules, super-fast broadband and tax breaks for businesses with the intention
of creating new businesses and jobs. Social enterprise’s involvement has yet
to be determined.
o Business Links - are the main public sector support organisations
in England, and operate in a similar fashion to Business Gateways
in Scotland. They have operations in 9 Regions across England.
UK – Support Programmes
Co-operative Enterprise Hub - a package of advice, training and finance to help
new and existing co-operatives become more sustainable businesses.
Social Enterprise Training and Support (SETAS) provides a one-stop
marketplace for social enterprise training and support. The site is operated by
UnLtd, the Social Enterprise Coalition and Coin Street Community Builders.
Social Business Trust – provides support and funding for social enterprises
looking to scale up their operations. The qualification criteria are fairly rigorous.