Entrepreneurs helping communities through innovation
Andrew's contribution to House of Lords social enterprise debate
Posted at 3:13pm 12th October, 2011
My Lords, I join other noble Lords in thanking the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, for securing this important debate. We are all conscious that we live in a world that is quickly changing around us. If you stand still, you can feel as though you are moving backwards. People are no longer willing to accept the same predictable services from the public sector but are demanding higher quality services, more choice and the personalisation of services. In reality, can governments deliver this choice?
The situation in Europe at present is just one example of political drama that makes people wary of trusting governments. People are sceptical-
The coalition Government agreement had two main pledges to support social enterprises in public service delivery. First, they said that they will support the creation and expansion of mutuals, co-
Without some intervention, there is a real danger that public service markets will be opened up and dominated by a small number of large private sector providers. The Social Enterprise Coalition says that it has seen this happen in a number of public service markets: welfare to work, waste and others where a small number of private companies dominate and the barriers to entry are too high for social enterprises and other small businesses to operate. There is some truth in this and I know from past experience how government departments love to talk to large bureaucracies because they are adept at using that language. Bureaucracies love to talk to bureaucracies. Talking to small and medium-
Some of us have seen all this before and it requires focused leadership in government to break into the impasse. I am a great believer in the power of the market but sometimes the Government have to intervene to make the market happen. The noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, knew that.
There are three ways of governing: the centralised state solution, the market, or the present favoured choice referred to by our major parties as going local. While those of us who have operated at a local level for more than 30 years are tempted to welcome this attention, we worry that politicians on all sides do not actually comprehend a lot of the practical detail. The systems of government and the Civil Service can present themselves as something new but when you actually examine the details, old out-
If this does not happen, I fear that we will see yet another phase of a very expensive cycle. Vast sums of money are wasted every year by those politicians who do not take personal responsibility, get hold of the practical detail, and drive forward viable change. The public are tired of seeing very little change and know that the processes of government carry on very much as before, regardless of which party is in power.
There is a challenge here that has not been grasped because there are no particular easy brownie points to be gained by any Government if they grasp this particular nettle. Yet the long-
I welcome both the localism and health Bills, but I ask the Minister what evidence there is that the Government are making life easier for those of us who are attempting to deliver these welcome changes on the ground. What evidence is there that there is a level playing field on which social enterprises can compete with large companies? What practical evidence is there that red tape is actually being removed? I can hear many fine words but outside your Lordships’ House, the jury seems to be out on these issues.
The world may be changing but the systems of government and the Civil Service seem to chug on regardless. Without very clear and focused leadership within government none of this will happen and, as with all recipes, the end result depends upon proper preparation, mixing and baking. No one likes an undercooked chicken.
This pretence at change will not do for the modern enterprise culture that our children are now growing up in-
The big breakthrough will start to come where social enterprises and business work ever more closely together. My colleagues and I have created a regeneration business, which we have set up as a social enterprise, called One Church, 100 Uses-
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