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UK Launches Social Economy Alliance

26 June 2013 at 12:16 pm
Staff Reporter
In the UK a new alliance has been launched to fight for a ‘social economy’ around social enterprises, co-ops, mutuals and employee-owned organisations in the run-up to 2015 General Election.

Staff Reporter | 26 June 2013 at 12:16 pm


UK Launches Social Economy Alliance
26 June 2013 at 12:16 pm

In the UK a new alliance has been launched to fight for a ‘social economy’ around social enterprises, co-ops, mutuals and employee-owned organisations in run-up to 2015 General Election.

Fifteen UK social economy organisations have joined to form The Social Economy Alliance saying the organisation aims to radically affect the way all political parties formulate policies in advance of the next election.

The alliance is led by Social Enterprise UK, The Young Foundation, Co-operatives UK, The Social Investment Forum and The School for Social Entrepreneurs among others.

Its aim is to develop a raft of policy ideas to strengthen the UK’s fast-growing social economy, according to Peter Holbrook, the Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK

"The last decade has seen huge progress in the social sector in the UK. Social enterprises and co-operatives are outperforming just-for-profit businesses; alternative banks have better returns on assets, lower volatility and higher growth, and a growing proportion of start-ups are socially-driven. A shift in the plates of the UK economy is happening," he said.

“We must not allow the narrative about what’s ‘good for the economy’ to be dominated by those who want to stimulate demand for luxury goods with heavy social and environmental costs; or the interests of some very large companies that concentrate wealth in the hands of a few shareholders while paying as little tax as possible; or on pumping money into a handful of banks.” 

“There is an urgent need for a business voice that presses for further advances on issues like low-carbon economy infrastructure, support for community enterprise, and support for community finance organisations to tackle the rise of payday lenders.

“We will press for things like extended use of social enterprise and co-operative models to combat the rise of fuel and transport poverty, and support for business-methods that reverse the current trend of concentrating greater and greater portions of wealth in a few hands. We need a voice for the social economy.”

Peter Holbrook was in Australia in May for a series of social enterprise breakfast talks being held by Social Traders – a national advocacy organisation for social enterprise.
He said Australia is facing the “the perfect storm” for a new model of business capital to emerge. 

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said last week in a G8 event speech: “Social enterprises… have the knowledge, human touch and personal commitment to succeed where governments often fail.”

Recent UK social economy policy developments include:

  • The first anniversary of the world’s first social investment bank, Big Society Capital, which is funded from dormant bank accounts
  • The Public Services (Social Value) Act that was implemented earlier this year and is spawning similar draft legislation around the world. It is designed to maximise the social value gained when public pounds are spent
  • The world's first legal form for social enterprises. Community Interest Companies are legally bound to use their profits and assets for public good
  • Tax relief plans for social investment currently being developed by the Treasury
  • The world's first social impact bond at HMP Peterborough, with 12 others now in place

On June 6, G8 leaders launched a taskforce to help grow the global market for social investment.  

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