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Social Enterprise

Volume 534: debated on Wednesday 2 November 2011

First, we now have Big Society Capital established—the initial investment was made in the summer. Secondly, we are moving ahead with the establishment of mutuals, with a new mutuals support programme; 45,000 staff are already in social enterprises in health care alone. Thirdly, we have promoted social enterprise in the Work programme, with two social enterprises as prime providers and about 500 more voluntary sector organisations as subcontractors.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Does he believe that the Government and local authorities should be developing strategies to promote social enterprises? If so, why has he axed the clauses that would have made Departments do that from the private Member’s Bill of the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White)?

We do not feel that it is necessary to legislate for strategies at a national and local level. The previous Government specialised in having lots of strategies and fulfilling none of them. By contrast, we are in favour of taking action, which is why we are working with my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White) to ensure, as I mentioned in answer to the previous question, that there is provision for social outcomes and social value to be measured in contracts. That is, of course, part of his Bill. [Interruption.]

Order. I am sure that when the Minister was conducting his philosophy seminars he had a rather more respectful and attentive audience, and that is what we should grant him.

Allia and Future Business are promoting social bonds to support social enterprises, such as the future business centre in my constituency. There has been a very good uptake by individuals and companies, but not by the banks. Will the Minister have discussions with the banks to encourage them to invest in these bonds, which provide a secure social investment asset?

We believe that social impact bonds have an enormous role to play. The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner (Mr Hurd), who has responsibility for the civil society, and I recently had a round table meeting with a group of social entrepreneurs and investors who are interested in investing in social enterprise. We are encouraging that and we are taking further steps through Big Society Capital to promote the use of social impact bonds. Of course our payment-by-results systems also make use of social impact bonds.