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Social Enterprises

Volume 585: debated on Wednesday 10 September 2014

We are committed to supporting social enterprises, and we are leading the world in growing the social investment market to provide social enterprises with access to the finance and advice that they need. I am particularly pleased that we are working with Social Enterprise UK to deliver the first ever Social Saturday this Saturday to encourage more people to buy from social enterprises. I would like to congratulate my hon. Friend’s constituent Sebastian Huempfer, who yesterday won the Prime Minister’s Points of Light award for his work with soap recycling social enterprise CLEAN SL8.

Oxfordshire is a hotbed of social enterprise and tech expertise, as the Minister for Business and Enterprise discovered when he visited the outstanding social enterprise Oxford Launchpad at the Said Business School yesterday. Does the Minister for Civil Society agree that the middle-stage funding gap is acting as a barrier to UK social tech achieving its full potential, and that raising the cap on the social incubator fund is the right response to this problem?

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. We are working closely with key stakeholders to ensure that social ventures can access the support and finance that they need throughout the different stages of development. Following the support provided through the social incubator fund, there are now a number of opportunities for social ventures to access support.

I see that you are wearing a slightly pinkish tie today, Mr Speaker, but pinkness seems to be absent from the Government Front Bench. Today is “wear it pink” day, which is the national campaign day for breast cancer.

Social enterprise is a very important sector and it is getting more important by the day. Has the Minister seen the wonderful picture of Mrs Thatcher’s face with Che Guevara’s beret, which launches the new manifesto for the social enterprise sector? That is important, because it marks the conjunction of social enterprise, social enterprise investment and crowdfunding. We would be very grateful if he put his weight behind it.

The image is visible in Westminster station and doubtless elsewhere, as I am sure the Minister is aware.

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. When I was coming into Parliament, the image struck me as a cross-party approach to campaigning. We lead the way on social impact bonds. The UK is also leading the charge through the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which contributes to the Government’s ambition to reform public services to ensure that they not only achieve maximum value for money but contribute to their local communities.