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Archive for June, 2010

A great week this week if not a little tiring… The team at SEC, led by James and Val, did a great job in moving us from our old home in Vauxhall to our new one in CAN Mezzanine, Old St.  The Old Street area has quickly been renamed Social Enterprise Alley due to the number of social enterprise organisations and supporters based there. It’s great to be surrounded by some fantastically inspiring social enterprises and to be putting our rent costs back into the movement. My thanks to CAN for an incredibly warm welcome – it’s great to be with you.

On Monday myself and Ceri Jones, head of policy and research, had a great first meeting with our new Minister, Nick Hurd.

It was constructive and positive and together we identified at least six or seven distinct areas where we could work together. We also discussed the very real likelihood of how cuts in public expenditure could adversely affect the excellent work our movement is already doing through public sector contracts – particularly because the discretionary budgets of councils could be the first casualties in these austere times. Nick was clear about his belief in the power of our movement and I am sure will maintain his strong advocacy for the value and impact that we together create.

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of spending the day with Social Enterprise Ambassadors, Craig Dearden Phillips and Martin Kinsella. We were all speaking at the launch of the new NHS Social Value toolkit at Aintree racecourse.  The tool kit is a great resource to help commissioners purchase against whole social value criteria rather than best value (AKA cheapest price).

Back to London on Wednesday: the launch of Coutts bank’s new Guide to Social Enterprise, written and compiled by the fab SEC staff Pauline, Caroline and Katherine, and then onto the newly outed social enterprise venue, The Garden Museum for my personal highlight of the week: the great, the good and the interested assembled for the RBS SE100 awards, organised by Social Enterprise Magazine and facilitated by Social Enterprise Mark holder CEiS.

Watching the films (provided by another Mark holder, The Wise Group) reinvigorated the pride I have in working for this incredible, world leading movement.

And today on to Harrogate for the Chartered Institute of Public Finance Accountants conference to discuss the impact of the public sector cuts. Let’s hope that proves to be as exciting!

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It’s been an interesting fortnight don’t you think?

The coalition government has already lasted longer than some doomy types predicted and we have begun to see some clarity emerge as new ministers have begun to settle.

I welcome Nick Hurd as minister for Civil Society. We’re lucky to have somebody that has, for over a year, been enthusiastically engaging with us and has largely got to grips with the challenges we face. In Francis Maude and in Oliver Letwin we also have powerful and experienced  advocates for our movement.

I hope they can use their talents to influence others within cabinet; I was disappointed that Iain Duncan Smith at the launch of their welfare reform agenda last Tuesday didn’t mention social enterprise at all.

Previous to this omission DWP claimed the Future Jobs Fund to be inefficient. I was displeased by this analysis. Social enterprises that were invited to support this initiative have between them created thousands of jobs and thousands of qualified and motivated people young and old who previously had little or no experience of what work is like.

I know FJF wasn’t a cheap option and there was no doubt that there are areas where things could have been improved, but having visited lots of social enterprises that were participating in the scheme I have no doubt that it was effective. Dozens of people on the scheme told me this directly.

I want to ensure that whatever replaces FJF uses the learning of our sector to create something at least as good and that recognizes the features of this programme that were successful.  It is a rare thing indeed that employment schemes get a general thumbs up from our sector leaders large and small.  I firmly believe that supported employment schemes like FJF are one of the most effective ways of addressing unemployment.

In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be meeting ministers from across departments to ensure the value of what we all do does not get lost amidst the urgent priorities that new ministers face.

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