New guide to social enterprise for local authorities

Published:  15 February, 2012

A new guide to the increasingly important topic of social enterprise has been published for professionals working in local government. It explains how social enterprises can help meet local authorities' strategic objectives, and gives practical advice about how to engage, procure and commission from social enterprises.

Social enterprises already deliver services across health, education, housing and transport, and exist to tackle social and environmental problems in the communities and boroughs where they work.

The guide, published by Social Enterprise UK, explains how social enterprise can improve public services, contribute to economic development, support community development and cohesion, and address social exclusion.

Featuring case studies of local authorities already working with social enterprises, it offers practical advice for what staff can do to make their local authority social enterprise-ready, and support the growth of resilient social enterprises in even the most deprived areas.

Public Services Bill could change public sector commissioning and procurement

The Public Services (Social Value) Bill currently moving through parliament, if passed, will require local authorities to consider economic, social or environmental wellbeing whenever they procure a service. This could see commissioners and procurement heads look to social enterprises and other organisations that create social value to deliver a greater number of contracts.

‘Social enterprises keep money in local communities'

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said:

“Social enterprises are designed to bring about positive change and when a local authority chooses a social enterprise, the money goes further and works harder. Social enterprises are rooted in their communities and when they're awarded public sector contracts, the financial and social rewards are felt in that community. But when a contract goes to a large private sector provider, local authority spend can be wasted because it too often evaporates out of a community – there is often little long-term gain to be had.”

‘The Social Enterprise Guide: For people in local government' has been written for senior managers, directors and heads of service lines, commissioners, heads of procurement or economic development, and regeneration managers. Available to download and order from Social Enterprise UK. Visit or telephone 020 3589 4963.

Supported by Eversheds and MHA MacIntyre Hudson

Paul Pugh, Head of 3rd Sector Services at the international law firm Eversheds, said: "There is growing demand for public services to be delivered in increasingly innovative ways with the goal of achieving improved quality at a local and national level. Social enterprise and the wider third sector set is an essential part of meeting this demand. This Guide shows what may be achieved and demonstrates that effective legal and financial structures are available."

Chris Harris, Partner at MHA MacIntyre Hudson accountants, tax and business advisers, said: “We are proud to support the social enterprise guide. Having worked with social enterprise and charity clients for many years, we understand their culture and the positive contribution they can make. Being there to advise on the financial and tax challenges faced at the very beginning as well as during phases of growth means we can ensure that the social enterprise is making the best of their resources and can focus their attention on delivering excellent services.”

Latest social enterprise facts and figures**

• 39% of all social enterprises are based and working in the most deprived communities in the UK, compared to 13% of all SMEs
• 82% of social enterprises reinvest their profits back into the communities where they are earned to further their social or environmental goals
• Around a third of all social enterprise start-ups are in the most deprived communities, where they can have the greatest impact
• Social enterprises employ more people relative to turnover than mainstream small businesses
• Social enterprises are also more likely to be led by women, young people, and those from minority ethnic groups

Download the guide:

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