This report from ippr north and commissioned by North West Together We Can, highlights some examples of best practice in the North West region, but warns that without support, community and social enterprise will not be able to rise to the challenge of the Big Society.
It argues that there is a significant gap between the expectations of the Big Society and the current capacity of the sector. There are not sufficient numbers of ‘enterprise ready’ organisations looking to contract with the public sector.
The research reveals many organisations claiming to be community or social enterprises are currently relying on grants and public sector funding. An online survey conducted by ippr north showed that grant funding had been the primary port of call for over 70 per cent of respondents in the last 12 months. It is going to require significantly more intellectual and financial investment and coordination, particularly at the local level, if the Big Society is going to take off.
The report recommends urgent dialogue between national policy-makers, regionally and locally-based representatives of the third sector, local authorities and other support agencies in order to address concerns about capacity and funding. It also calls for money coming to the sector through the Big Society Bank, the Communities First Fund and any local authority discretionary spend to be targeted at the areas of greatest need.
GROWING THE BIG SOCIETY is available from ippr north. http://www.ippr.org.uk/ipprnorth/