Peter Holbrook CBE, the Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, has today given evidence at the House of Lords Select Committee on Charities.
Holbrook was invited to speak following a written submission by Social Enterprise UK on the future of charities, and to answer broader questions regarding the role and purpose of social enterprise for the charity sector.
Answering a series of questions from members of the committee, he said:
On Social Enterprises Delivering Public Services
“Public service markets are difficult for social enterprises, which tend to be smaller businesses, to compete within. Commissioners and procurements teams are sensitive towards risk and smaller organisations tend to carry more risk than bigger ones.
“Social enterprises are well placed to deliver some public services and the Social Value Act has helped, but changes are needed to this piece of legislation – it needs to be unwritten by statutory guidance to ensure best value for taxpayer spend. The Act has always been about maximising whole community benefit for each and every contract.
On Social Finance
“Social finance is an important part of the jigsaw for social enterprises and charities, especially with a reduction in the availability of grants. But it is important to recognise that it is not, and should not be, a replacement for grants or income from other sources. Some organisations will always need grants because their business models are not suited to social investment. It should be seen as complimentary form of finance, not a replacement.
On Social Impact Bonds
“Whilst I welcome and support Social Impact Bonds, there are many other forms of finance that are as effective, cheaper and simpler. And I wish the same amount of government time and effort had been spent on consumer finance – through the likes of pensions and ISAs, people can invest in social enterprises and charities. There is scope for more to be done in this area.”
Also giving evidence alongside Peter Holbrook were Geoff Burnand, Chief Executive, Investing for Good and Jane Wilson, Lead Practitioner for Learning and Development, City Health Care Partnership.