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 partnerships. 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 Bassac). 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 Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) have been replaced by Local Enterprise Partnerships and, as yet, social enterprise’s involvement is not clear.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.
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