Last Thursday, I went to the Social Enterprise summit regional workshop that I mentioned. Apparently, SEC are hoping that ministers Mandelson, Purnell, Byrne and Blears will be at the summit, along with people from various famous co-ops.
I took along some email feedback I received on ’supporting new blood in social enterprise’ about needing help to bridge the gaps (financial, social, training) between taking on new members and them being productive enough to “break even”. Happily, that was echoed and reinforced by other delegates – I shared a table with people from Trinity Community Arts, AvonCDA, Sofa Project, Somerset Co-operative Services and Community Action.
Emboldened by that, I ranted about the Business Support Simplification Programme (which seems to mean that only BusinessLinkSW has any gov.uk money in our region and they’re being really poor at co-op support) and I threw a couple of ideological-explosives into the consultation, suggesting that franchising has failed as a way of spreading social enterprise and we need to start offering General Public Licensing of our business models, because we’re not franchising businesses and most of us don’t want to be. I wonder if that idea will detonate somewhere helpful.
The Social Enterprise Coalition officers had some details of the support programmes that are already announced. One of them is a “golden hello” where the enterprise gets money when a new person joins. It’s run by jobcentreplus. So yesterday, when I was at a Business Link “Real help for business” event, I asked the jobcentreplus officers there about it: apparently it’s useless to TTLLP because all our workers are partners and not employees. I was expecting more support for co-ops from a Labour+Co-op government, but it shouldn’t’ve been a surprise after the budget.
After that, I don’t think it’s worth posting details of the other SE assistance programmes mentioned: they’ll probably turn out to be equally useless for co-ops and I don’t want to waste your time. I’ll rant about that and the BusinessLinkSW event another day or in another place. Ask me if you want details and I’ll put them in a comment or email them.
And in that spirit, it’s back to programming for me!