The Government published the social enterprise action plan on 16 November 2006. It states that the Office of the Third Sector will work with the social enterprise sector to develop a programme which will appoint 20 social enterprise ambassadors to raise awareness of social enterprise and work with Government on the development of policy.
The Office of the Third Sector is currently developing the programme in partnership with the social enterprise sector. We are aiming to announce the new ambassadors in the summer to ensure that they are ready to participate fully in the run-up to the next Social Enterprise Day, which will be on 15 November 2007 as part of Enterprise Week.
Once selected, a copy of the list of the names of the social enterprise ambassadors will be placed in the Library for the reference of Members.
The Government provided the latest information on the value of the social enterprise sector to the economy in the Social Enterprise Action Plan, published on 16 November 2006.
The DTI's latest Annual Small Business Survey (2005) estimated that there are 55,000 social enterprises in the UK, generating a combined turnover of about £27 billion turnover and contributing £8.4 billion to GDP.
Due to the size of the social enterprise sample it is not possible to break this figure down further by region.
The Government set out their approach to supporting the social enterprise sector in the Social Enterprise Action Plan—Scaling New Heights—published on 16 November 2006. The Action Plan aims to help create the conditions to enable the sector to succeed by helping more people to understand social enterprise, raising awareness among potential investors and customers; ensuring that social enterprises have access to business support and finance; and including social enterprises in public service delivery.
Government are working with the sector to highlight best practice and to encourage new people to start and join social enterprises. The most important elements of this work are:
A new strategic funding programme announced in the Action Plan, worth £2.4 million over three years, which will among other things enable nationally representative social enterprise bodies to help spread best practice;
Using the developing evidence base to raise awareness and understanding of social enterprise among a range of audiences, working in partnership with the sector;
An investment of almost £6 million over four years to improve the capacity of the Business Link service to broker business support for social enterprises;
Support for the annual Enterprising Solutions Awards, which celebrate and highlight the achievements of the best social enterprises;
Sponsorship of sector conferences such as the recent Voice 07 national social enterprise conference, which provide opportunities for sharing best practice;
A campaign to attract young people to start or join social enterprise, Make Your Mark: Change Lives, which uses inspirational examples of success in the sector. A recent example of this is the Trailblazers magazine and DVD, produced in collaboration with Enterprise Insight and the Social Enterprise Coalition.
Government help available to establish social enterprise is described in the Social Enterprise Action plan—Scaling new heights—published on 16 November 2006. In particular, the Government aims to foster a culture of social enterprise and ensure that the right information, advice and finance are available to those running social enterprises.
To foster a culture of social enterprise, the Government will work with the sector to raise the level of awareness of social enterprise and to show that financial success and social and environmental benefits can be achieved together. For example the Office of the Third Sector will work with the sector to develop a programme to appoint 20 social enterprise ambassadors to raise awareness of social enterprise, and work with Government on the development of policy. In addition Government are working with Enterprise Insight to attract young people into social enterprise through the new “Make Your Mark: Change Lives” campaign.
The Business Link Service is the Government’s gateway to support for small businesses. Funding will be provided from April 2007 to Regional Development Agencies to boost Business Link’s capacity to broker business support for social enterprise. From an initial pilot level of at least £0.5 million in 2007-08, the funding will rise to £1.8 million per year from April 2008 to March 2011. This will help ensure that the right information and advice are available to those running social enterprises.