After this weeks ‘Marxists aren’t fond of Capitalism‘ shocker, I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground for the latest news coming out of funerals, party conferences and the opening of envelopes, to find out what the future holds for the UK social economy.
The Conservatives concluded their party conference this week, wrapping up the season with 20 months left until the general election. Despite no talk of the social economy during any of the keynote speeches, the movement was well represented thanks to a variety of fringe events. What became clear over the three main conferences is that, despite differences in their politics, politicians of all persuasions support the idea of social enterprise and entrepreneurship in principle. Unfortunately though they do not yet see it as being a significant enough area to justify substantial policy interest. Read my full round-up here.
The Social Economy Alliance (SEA) has been busy responding to several key policy developments recently, and this week published two letters – firstly about the need to get beyond the ‘pro-business/anti-business’ dichotomy currently being touted about, and secondly in response to news that the Financial Conduct Authority has planned tighter regulations for payday lenders. SEA responded on Thursday with a short letter arguing that this doesn’t go far enough, and highlighting the potential of credit unions (among others) in this area.
Away from the hype machine that is politics to the hype machine that is social investment. However this time there is a reason to be excited (at least if you’re a geek like me). Big Society Capital have produced a stupendous compendium offering an impressive overview of the whole UK social investment market. The report represents an attempt to think “more systematically about the four areas that make up the market: products and intermediation; social sector demand; social investor supply; and the broader enabling environment”. It shows that there is much to be optimistic about (with the market having grown 21%), though challenges remain in terms a mismatch between supply of financial products and demand. Read a summary here.
Finally, Bristol and Plymouth have pipped London to be named the UK’s first social enterprise cities. From a regional development perspective, it is hoped that this will give the areas a shot in the arm, though there are some sceptics who worry about the lack of funding associated with it and whether it duplicates work being done by Local Enterprise Partnerships.