Written evidence submitted by UnLtd (BS
backs over 1,000 people a year to start new social and community
supports up to 100 a year to get to scale.
offer includes seed funds, development support, networking and
connections to the people who can make their projects and social
is the largest programme of support for start up social entrepreneurs
in the world, and gives a unique insight into the motivations,
opportunities and barriers for the Big Society.
Our favourite definition was first described by Nat
Wei, "The big society is one where nobody feels small"
Our mission is to reach out and unleash the energies of people
who can transform the world in which they live. We call these
people social entrepreneurs. Through our work we have found that
anyone, from any walk of life can and do change their world. Learning
from doing, these individual people not only create social impact
themselves, they can inspire others to join them.
2. IMPACT AND
The impact of reductions will be one of anger, the
degree of which is yet to be realised. As the reality of reduced
services hit, people will rise to take action. The key to Big
Society succeeding is to galvanise this energy. The motivation
to start social ventures will increase, however with less support
and public money it will be harder to scale. As a consequence
public services will be messier, with good provision in some areas
and little or poor provision in others. Development of the Big
Society idea will be chaotic, evolutionary in nature and the biggest
problem will be the slow rate of change, mismatched by the speed
Our research shows that social entrepreneurs themselves
believe they are needed more than ever. Following the Comprehensive
Spending Review in October 2010, a survey for UnLtd found that
over eight in ten (83%) respondents saw an increased role for
social entrepreneurs in addressing social issues, with a further
eight in ten (80%) of these foreseeing provision of innovate solutions
to social problems. Furthermore, almost three-quarters (74%) of
social entrepreneurs thought there would be a greater need for
their services as a result of the cuts.
They also believe that the government should value
the role of social entrepreneurs by increasing community cohesion
(66%), a key part of the Big Society agenda. In light of this,
over half (58%) of social entrepreneurs were positive about the
Big Society, despite adverse impact on their own income
3. THE ROLE
As part of the voluntary and community sector, the
role of social entrepreneurs will be huge in providing localised
solutions and in taking an innovative approach - social entrepreneurs
have a long history in tackling social problems in ways that more
traditional methods might have failed. Yet how can they do this
effectively? The problem of capacity is one of time and scale
- to get enough social entrepreneurs working at a big enough scale
as quickly as possible.
There are estimated to be 238,000 people starting
social ventures a year, yet currently, support agencies involved
collectively reach only a single percent of the population wishing
to start a social venture. Compared to the traditional third sector
support infrastructure, the agencies involved are very small and
have little public recognition. Yet the sector is developing fast.
UnLtd's strategy is to help develop the social entrepreneur support
sector into an effective system of help which makes it much easier
for social entrepreneurs to get going and thrive.
At UnLtd we have found that communities facing problems
contain within them the people who are the solutions. On recognising
gaps in existing provision, they have set up organisations in
response to need. Because of the fact they are based in the community
they serve, they are often best placed to listen to and understand
real needs. Social entrepreneurs successfully engage with hard
to-reach groups, marginalised or disadvantaged groups. Our research
on UnLtd Award Winners found:
a third come from the most disadvantaged 20% of localities;
as many women as men are award winners; and
come from minority ethnic groups (compared to 11% of the UK population).
Almost six in ten Award Winners provide a service
related to key areas such as health, education or sport and recreation.
The majority of Award Winners benefited local people, young people
under 18, people on low incomes, unemployed people and people
with disabilities. The variety of social impact is immense - from
providing educational books, increasing fitness and solving health
issues, to inventing new approaches to environmental problems.
4. PROBLEMS AND
Social Entrepreneurs are well placed to tap into
grass routes solutions, creating innovative, effective and often
more efficient solutions to entrenched problems. However the lack
of working capital and capacity will be a core problem faced by
social entrepreneurs, particularly when faced with the current
priorities of the procurement process used for commissioning public
services. UK. This is a people-powered movement, not a structural
one, so the challenge will be revolutionising the commissioning
Scaling up and replication also needs to be considered
when thinking about public services commissioning. At UnLtd we
are actively working with these areas, and some of the challenges
faced by social entrepreneurs have been highlighted in our recent
suggestions for the Red Tape Task force. Removing barriers to
scale up is crucial, and we welcome the openness to change and
readiness to listen from the Task force. Examples of practical
changes we have put to the task force are included for information.
Appendix 1: Barriers to Scaling Up
UnLtd Research shows that even with diminished resources
due to cuts, social entrepreneurs see the government as having
a role in helping social entrepreneurs to scale up or replicate
(60%), particularly by making public procurement easier (60%)
or by removing barriers (54%).
UnLtd's strategy is to back people as social
entrepreneurs in their communities, creating social value through
large numbers of people developing many community level ventures.
To find out more about individuals in your areas, their role and
capacity for success, see the attached document: Appendix 2:
Social Entrepreneurs in your communities
5. APPENDIX 1:
Renewable energy Feed-in Tariff
This is a policy mechanism designed to encourage
the adoption of renewable energy sources. Under a feed-in tariff,
eligible renewable electricity generators paid a premium price
for any renewable electricity they produce. There should be protection
for those involved in community benefit or social enterprises
(not for those maximising profit for private gain).
Financial Services Promotions Act
Provide exemption from the Financial Services Promotions
Act for social purpose vehicles to make it easier to raise money,
which could also be a tax generator. Currently this is only available
for provident societies.
Remove the VAT penalty on back office functions across
more than one body. Currently, if a charitable body outsources
their back office function for efficiency, they pay 20% VAT penalty.
For example, if a charity hires an HR or Finance person, there
is no VAT. If they do the more efficient thing and outsource HR
or Finance from a bigger charity, there is a 20% VAT penalty.
The tax regime thereby incentivises inefficiency.
There is an existing EU directive requiring member
states to remove VAT on inter-charity trading (see charity tax
group for info) but the UK government has yet to implement it.
Ideally, the exemption would be extended to other social ventures
Community Interest Companies
Clarify the position of CICs under the Business Rates
Relief programme. Charities get an automatic 80% relief with 20%
discretionary. For CICs it is up to the local authorities, which
have the discretion to provide rate relief of up to 100%. For
example, UnLtd Award Winner Goodwill Solutions which is based
in Northampton, currently get charitable rates relief there, but
in Daventry (the town next door) they do not. The CIC Association
are currently in the process of mapping local authorities to confirm
what their policy is regarding CICs and have further examples
of those that have had relief, those that have been declined and
successfully appealed - and CICs that have just been declined.
Community Investment Tax Relief (CITR)
Currently the system works on the investor (financial
institution or HNWI) receiving tax relief of 5% per annum on the
total amount invested for 5 years, i.e. if invests £1m, then
£50k per annum in tax relief. However, the tax relief is
not cumulative and therefore is on a "use it or lose it"
basis each year. Banks have traditionally been the principal investors
in the scheme however as many have posted losses over the last
couple of years, they have been unable to benefit financially
from investing in the scheme and as a result are reluctant to
extend existing investments (i.e. to renew after 5 years) or invest
When people are reunited with bank accounts, ask
them if want to donate it to Big Society Bank and make eligible
for Gift Aid. This could be an "opt-in" policy, such
as donor cards. Making this an easy to do option would be key
- like the Mission Fish link up with eBay, which allows sellers
to give proceeds from their sales to a non-profit.
Generally statutory bodies could be encouraged to
work and commission across their budget silos and move towards
commissioning person-centred outcomes, payment by results and
shared objectives. These could be models of services that all
relevant stakeholders contribute funding towards, which would
help them look to more holistic solutions across departments.
One example could be a "Head of Profession"
to break silos for commissioning - in a similar position to the
Chief Scientific Officer. This would be someone with the authority
to cut across organisational boundaries within government and
the different silos being created around what commissioning means.
Another example could be cross department outcomes
and recognition of readily used outcome measures.
"Value for Money"
Definition is very different for the Treasury to
the one used locally - need to look at full value across the lifetime
of the contract.
One click credentials
All accessible on-line, so one submission can be
used for multiple contracts. Currently, a social enterprise being
contracted by the public sector has to send last three years of
accounts and constitution every time - most social enterprise
are registered charities so this info is already online at the
development could be to move away from commissioning to tariff
funding - ie a set price per item. This is already in place
for green energy (feed in tariff) and recycling (landfill tax)
as well as for some direct payments for social services. Our experience
is that tariff funded areas see much greater innovation and rapid
growth for social ventures than commissioned sectors, as the provider
does not have to wait for commissioning decisions and is free
to innovate in methods of achieving the outcome.
Remove barriers for ex offenders to engage at a senior
level. The commissioning processes that this is a barrier for
includes those affecting homelessness (NOMS, MoJ, DCLG, LAs, DWP,
NHS). It means that ex-offenders are unable to talk to Senior
Management - even though they may have contracts with them. There
is currently no legal process to prevent this, but it is a policy
of some local authorities. Best practice procurement is to consult
with stakeholders and potential suppliers in any case and there
is scope for ex-offenders to play a more active role in the procurement
process specifically. Organisations such as Vision Housing have
proved that a deeper understanding of the root causes of problems
can inspire more innovative solutions.
"Office in a Box"
A Basket of documents eg employment fire regulations,
insurance, all in one place. This would combine the standard tools
needed by a start up venture and put them on a smartphone - basic
bookkeeping app, basic CRM, possibly suppliers database etc, plus
interactive toolkit for advice. It is a functional tool for business
rather than just an advice service. This could be created by a
social venture support agency and funded by the government for
APPENDIX 2: SOCIAL
Fitness for Your Future - Enfield
Fitness for your Future provides a variety of health
and fitness topics and courses to people of all ages and has been
leading the way in tackling unhealthy lifestyles and obesity,
particularly in schools. Through educational programmes which
improve the social and physical well-being of children and adults,
they are addressing the issues of mental health and obesity at
the workplace, schools and hospitals. Fitness for your Future
now operates in 27 primary and secondary schools throughout Enfield.
Latest results show that 60% of pupils had reduced their waist
circumference and 36%had lost weight
As well as running programmes for adults in the community,
they also employ 7 local people as instructors. It's also recognised
that large numbers of these individuals come from deprived backgrounds,
therefore are unable to access appropriate and affordable training
to tackle the problem.
Elmet Archaeological Services Limited - Barnsley
Elmet is a sustainable social enterprise, organising
community archaeological digs and providing education and training
to disadvantaged people in the former coal mining communities
around South Yorkshire. Their aim is to create a route into learning
and accredited training for people with low educational aspirations,
and facilitate employment in the fields of heritage, planning
and archaeology. They also work on developing positive pride and
identity within local communities, address issues of fear and
mistrust between generations. They currently engage with over
200 people per year.
Nosh and Natter - Dover
Nosh and Natter is a community food club for those
aged 18+ to remedy social exclusion and isolation and bring about
a sense of community again. It's run by local people, for local
people, and provides nutritional food, all made to order, at very
reasonable prices - no meal costs over £2.50.
They also liaise with local JobCentres to find unemployed
individuals who can assist with service delivery and offer them
the chance to gain qualifications, such as NVQ's. This empowers
individuals, increases self esteem and leaves them with a recognised
qualification. Key local organisations (i.e. NHS professionals,
Age Concern, Benefits Agency, Citizens Advice) regularly deliver
valuable info and advice to the local population during the daily
club. Currently in the pilot stage, if this is successful, there
are plans to roll out Nosh and Natter Food Clubs 24/7 nationwide.
Lylac Ridge - Newport
Lylac Ridge offers an alternative, informal medium
of education providing hands on experience through a programme
of animal assisted therapy and animal orientated activities. Lylac
Ridge's main focus is to provide opportunities for children and
young people, although there are also programmes for all age groups.
The project uses the natural connection between animal and human
interaction, increasing the level of ownership and care that people
need to give to animals and therefore interlinking relationships
with everyday occurrences and emotions. These transferable skills
can then be harnessed to address issues and situations they need
to control such as anger management and behavioural issues. Structured
activities encompass the role of educating, confidence building
and improving the skills of individuals to focus and maximise
their strengths assisting them with any issues they feel they
Greenbean Cars - Leeds
Greenbean Cars are Leeds's first environmentally
friendly private hire pre booked taxi service company. It comprises
of a fleet of petrol electric hybrid cars with the objective of
reducing the environmental impact of clients and simultaneously
raising awareness of environmental issues to a wider audience.
Greenbean aims to initially service the city council and local
special schools although Environment Leeds & Transport Leeds
have indicated they are keen to use the service for contracts
they publicly tender. Additional market research has led to dozens
of companies who would consider switching their taxi accounts