Fast Social: News for the week 17th – 21st June 2013

  • George OLike a prayer: The Cooperative Bank, part of Britain’s oldest and largest mutual, is to have its shares listed on the stock market for the first time as part of a deal to plug a £1.5bn hole in its finances. The move represents a new approach from the government in bailing out banks, insofar as the bank’s bondholders are being asked to take losses in return for shares (rather than the taxpayer). Given the tone of press coverage this week, expect more bad times ahead. Time to start praying?
  • La Isla Bonita: Meanwhile, over in dreamland, latest research shows that banker’s bonuses leapt 64% after ‘Jeffrey’ Osborne cut the top rate of tax in April.
  • Papa don’t preach: Jeffrey’s been in the news a lot this week (not least for going sans tie at the G8 summit). Along with Big Dave, he announced on Tuesday that the G8 had agreed in principle to clamp down on tax avoidance. Will this force businesses to face up to their social responsibilities more?
  • Material girl: Then on Wednesday he received the final report from the Banking Commission, prompting much speculation that he was going to get his sticker gun out and whack a reduced sticker on Stephen Hester’s forehead. Instead, he showed that like Madonna, he can still surprise us, announcing that Lloyds will be sold off instead and that he is considering breaking up RBS.
  • Into the groove: Buried in the weekend papers, Nick Hurd wrote an impassioned article with an amazing call to action – ‘Businesses and organisations that use profit to help to find better social solutions are really important’. He then roughshod over the methodology I imagine a BIS researcher spent ages agonising over, to claim that there are now 688,000 social enterprises in the UK, contributing more than £55bn to the economy. This will almost certainly now become fact.
  • Ray of light: A slightly better call to action was also launched over the weekend by a coalition of social enterprise support intermediaries, who are preparing the battle ground for the 2015 election.
  • Vogue: Lots of people were talking about scale this week. David Floyd kicked things off by dismantling the myth that going to scale automatically implies increased social impact. Jonathan Lewis from the excellent Cafe Impact site also contributed from a US perspective, highlighting the importance of maintaining local connections. Apparently anti-scale is OK.
  • Lucky Star: New research out this week showed non-Gaussian distribution in action within the Third sector (as I have also written about here). In news that in no way reflects what has been going on the private sector for years, it was revealed that the top 5% of charities receive 85% of all charitable income.
  • Don’t cry for me Argentina: And just to finish with some irony, it was also revealed this week that Oxfam’s former anti-fraud manager was charged with, erm, fraud.
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