The transfer of public services to the social enterprise sector has been a major theme for the Coalition Government since coming to power in May 2010. Most of the changes are taking place in England (as policy is generally devolved elsewhere) although the Big Society Capital funding stream is available across the UK.
Nick Hurd (pictured) has been Minister for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office since the general election. Hurd had an 18-year business career before entering Parliament in 2005.
Most UK Government procurement opportunities are published via a central hub (www.gov.uk/contracts-finder) and related public sector bodies are obliged to publish how much business they transact with social enterprises.
The Commissioning Academy helps senior civil servants to design service models that are sensitive to the needs of civil society. The compact on relations between government and civil society organisations in England was redrafted in December 2010 and sets out principles for good communication between the two sectors.
Social impact bonds provide upfront capital where a social enterprise delivers a good outcome e.g. in the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme.
The Public Service Transformation Network and the Troubled Families programme aimed to design services around users’ needs rather than central government priorities. These, in turn, could open up opportunities for social entrepreneurs who may understand those needs better than officials. Social enterprises in England are encouraged to work in consortia with others in the sector and also voluntary and community organisations.