Headlines: June 23rd, 2008

Local authorities looking for innovative new ways of delivering services to deal with the drive for more responsive services in a tight financial climate are turning to social enterprise companies. The inclusion of social enterprises among those bidding for contracts is also stimulating other contractors to come up with innovative solutions. Social enterprises can range from local recycling projects, credit unions, and art studios to the Big Issue magazine and Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurants.

John O’Brien, Chief Executive of London Councils, said: “Social enterprises are being increasingly successful at securing public sector contracts, but there are opportunities to do more. The move towards public services that are personalised to customer needs and are driven by customer choice is another opportunity for social enterprises.” He continued:“Social enterprises can also help local authorities save money following a devastating local government funding settlement. While there are a host of good practice examples of this across the capital there is still scope for more to be done.”

The Capacity builders Social Enterprise Programme, has been launched with 6 million pounds being invested over the next three years. The money will fund improvements like new mentoring schemes, more accredited advisers and work to develop emerging markets. The Improving Reach Programme will make grant awards totalling 17 million pounds to help organisations working with excluded communities to flourish through the provision of information, advice and facilities. There will be 70 grants to increase the capacity and sustainability of smaller third sector organisations specialising in providing advice and facilities to frontline groups working with excluded communities.