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Businesses Call on New BEIS Ministers to Take Responsibility



Dozens of leaders from a wide range of social enterprises and investors have written to Ministers to ask that the new team of forward thinking take on some liability for social enterprise, social investment and mutuals.


The call comes on the back of the news that the Office for Civil Society is going to be moved to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) from the Cabinet Office as part of Theresa May’s new government.

More than 25 businesses have signed the letter which has been sent to Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Nick Hurd, Margot James and Jesse Norman. All four of the new ministers have a strong track record of supporting social enterprise and progressive businesses, and will be key to delivering the new Prime Minister’s call for an ‘economy that works for us all.’

Social Enterprise UK’s chief executive Peter Holbrook, who rallied the businesses, said, “This is a timely opportunity to make it known that we would like some responsibility for social enterprise, investment and mutuals to sit within BEIS. For more than 15 years, successive governments have invested in social enterprise from the heart of Whitehall and moving responsibility for these businesses into the DCMS risks losing momentum. The UK is widely regarded as the world leader on social enterprise and investment – other countries look to Britain for inspiration and for groundbreaking policy ideas that have helped to grow the social economy, benefitting communities and the disadvantaged.

“Britain is facing a multitude of social and economic challenges, and businesses as a force for good are needed now more than ever.

Responsibility for social enterprise, investment, co-operatives and mutuals has always sat somewhat uncomfortably outside the Department for Business.

We know that with the support of the Department of Business, social enterprises, social investors, community energy co-operatives and other businesses working to improve society and the environment can continue to lead the way in building a fairer, more sustainable UK economy.”

In the letter, the business leaders say, “As representatives of social enterprises, social investors, entrepreneurs, co-operatives and community energy businesses we were absolutely delighted to see the new Ministerial team at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In terms of commitment to, and understanding of, the social and environmental contribution that businesses across the country can make, we could hardly imagine the Prime Minister appointing a better team.

At the same time, we are concerned about responsibility within government for civil society seemingly moving to DCMS. We are grateful to Rob Wilson for all his support for social enterprise and social investment and we value the Treasury’s work on co-operative society legislation, for instance. At the same time, these policy areas have always sat somewhat uncomfortably outside the Department for Business. We have welcomed Ministerial responsibility for social enterprise sitting at the heart of government, but we have at times been frustrated by the absence this left in Victoria Street.

We are writing today to ask you to consider how we take forward this enduring relationship. In particular, we propose that:

– We agree to establish regular quarterly meetings with the Secretary of State, as we have done with your predecessors;

– The Minister of State (or another Minister in the department) takes on formal responsibility for this agenda within BEIS;

– As you develop your industrial strategy, policies to support innovation, and as the Government’s Mission-Led Business Review concludes, you consider how the Department for Business has formerly taken the lead in delivering previous Social Enterprise Action Plans; and

– You communicate to officials your collective interest in the social and environmental contribution of business, the social economy and social investment. The presence of a civil society team within DCMS does not mean we shouldn’t work with you in collaboration, where opportunities present themselves.

– You propose and establish, together with key central departments and DCMS, arrangements for a formal and cross-cutting government-wide policy approach, through an existing or new interdepartmental committee, for instance, or a new Commission.”

Peter Holbrook, Social Enterprise UK

Amy Cameron, 10:10

Phil Caroe, Allia

Nigel Kershaw, Big Issue Invest

Simon Rowell, Big Society Capital

Holly Piper, CAF Venturesome

Andrew Croft, CAN

Patrick Crawford, Charity Bank

Emma Bridge, Community Energy England

Ramsey Dunning, Co-operative Energy

Ed Mayo, Co-operatives UK

Jamie Hartzell, Ethex

Geoff Burnand, Investing for Good

Matt Smith, Keyfund

Tony Armstrong, Locality

Dominic Llewellyn, Numbers for Good

Alex Germanis, Pure Leapfrog

Lindsey Hall, Real Ideas Organisation

Daniel Brewer, Resonance

Jennifer Tankard, Responsible Finance

Ali Wilson, School for Social Entrepreneurs

Vinay Nair, Social and Sustainable Capital

Annika Tverin, Social Finance

Alastair Davis, Social Investment Scotland

Jonathan Jenkins, The Social Investment Business