Headlines: November 24th, 2008

New initiatives have been launched across Government departments to promote the development of social enterprise as a business model which holds social and environmental value as important as financial gain. There is also an initiative to support health and care professionals in setting up social enterprise companies.

The success of social enterprises cannot be measured in the same way a commercial company because the bottom line is only part of the equation. To improve understanding of how social value can be measured a project has been launched to come up with ways of assessing social return on investment to help with decision making. A consortium led by SROI UK has been appointed to carry out the three-year project, which will run alongside a complementary project funded by the Scottish Government.

In a move to test social enterprise solutions and encourage central government departments to get involved, research projects have been launched in the Department of Health, Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, and the National Offenders Management Service. Communities and Local Government will also examine the potential of community share and bond issues to stimulate social enterprise activity, promote community empowerment and attract private sector investment.

Primary health and community care staff have recently received the right to establish independent social enterprises to provide an opportunity for them to deliver their services in new ways. To get this approach off the ground pump priming projects are being funded to help the elderly, the disabled and the homeless. Nurses will also get help to set up services that will benefit their patients. Because social enterprises give greater freedom to staff to use their professional skills to transform services it is expected that this move will drive up the quality of care and empower staff to directly address local needs.