There are more than 55,000 social enterprises in the UK. These are businesses with primarily social or environmental objectives, principally reinvesting surpluses in the business or community. This action plan sets out a vision for creating the conditions for thousands more to thrive.The major challenge for social enterprise businesses is to deliver public services in a different way, using the skills and expertise of users and frontline workers. In meeting this challenge they also contribute by bringing back into the economy people who were previously excluded, or by improving the environment or society. The businesses are diverse, ranging from small, community-owned village shops to large companies winning multimillion pound contracts. They are generating more than 27 billion pounds turnover and contributing more than 8 billion pounds to GDP a year.
The Office of the Third Sector, in the Cabinet Office, will co-ordinate the action plan across government departments and Regional Development Agencies. The Office will work with Business Link to improve capacity to broker business support for social enterprises. The RDAs will work with stakeholders, including specialist support agencies, to use funding to meet the support needs of social enterprises in their region.
HM Treasury and the Office of the Third Sector are currently engaged in a review of the third sector in social and economic regeneration, to feed into the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007. They will shortly set up a review with the Small Business Service and HM Revenue and Customs, to explore how operation of the Community Investment Tax Relief and other incentives might be improved to the benefit of social enterprise, reporting progress in Budget 2007.
The Action Plan is available at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/third_sector/documents/social_enterprise/se_action_plan_%202006.pdf