Social enterprise is an important element of government proposals to reform public service delivery. It is also an important component of the broader ‘Big Society’ vision. This has been set out in policy commitments that recognise the important and growing contribution of social enterprise to the future of sectors including health and social care, education, employment, economic development and regeneration.
With the public sector cuts driving public sector organisations to search for new ways of balancing budgets, this may suggest an alternative to redundancy for some. Most local authorities and PCTs are exploring options to support existing public sector staff in spinning out services as social enterprises.
Social enterprises have been described as:
“… businesses with primarily social objectives. They principally reinvest their surpluses in the business or community for these purposes. Unlike commercial businesses, they are not driven by the need to produce profit for shareholders and owners.”
The ‘right to provide’ is a policy to support frontline staff to take over and run their services as mutual social enterprises. Many public sector workers can see the potential in their service and how they could improve things if given a free hand. Now might be the right time for you and your colleagues to consider what you might achieve, together, through social enterprise.
However venturing out from the public sector safety net is an intimidating prospect for some, so it is important to have the right guidance and support in place to help you succeed and decide whether it is really the right option for you.
Social Enterprise London have produced some excellent guides available here, http://www.sel.org.UK/publications.aspx Guides include:
Transitions - written for the staff of local authorities and schools. It introduces the process of establishing a social enterprise out of a public service.
Social Enterprise Starting Point Guide - this guide is aimed at social entrepreneurs, by which we mean anyone with an idea for making money and using it to benefit others in some way. The Starting Point Guide offers guidance on what you need to think about when starting out on your journey to set up a social enterprise. Finding business support and advice, legal issues and finance are all covered here to help you become a successful social entrepreneur.
Social Enterprise in Cornwall is a 30 page guide published by CRCC with 14 local case studies and an explanation of what social enterprises are, how to go about establishing one and where to get more help and is available here http://www.cornwallrcc.org.UK/publications/
Co-operatives UK has published 'Simply Start-Up: A guide to the process of starting a Co-operative or Community Enterprise' available here http://www.UK.coop/simplystartup It is a guide for anyone involved in the creation of an enterprise that will be owned by, run by, and supported by the community in which it operates.