A NEW manifesto for social enterprise has been launched with a view to influencing all the political parties in the run up to the general election.
The publication from the Social Enterprise Coalition, There's more to Business, looks at how social enterprise can create an impact in the housing, business and public sectors.
Highlighted throughout the manifesto are some of the most successful social enterprises the SEC has supported including CafÃ©Direct, Greenwich Leisure and Chesterfield FC Supporters' Trust.
The SEC says that one of the main points in the document is for the Government to recognise social enterprise as a distinct way of doing business that seeks to meet social and environmental needs, rather than simply maximising shareholder value.
The 25-page manifesto says social enterprise already receives support from the Department of Trade and Industry, but the SEC asks to be recognised and promoted by the Treasury and other Government departments. It also wants them to evaluate the impact of social enterprise on society.
According to the manifesto, the Government should work with mainstream banks and commercial finance to ensure social enterprises are able to access mainstream sources of finance and explore new ways to stimulate social investment.
In housing, the SEC calls for the Government to require local authorities to consider the full range of social enterprise models, including co-operative and mutual options, when considering housing stock transfer.
A large section on public services shows the potential areas social enterprise can have a large impact. It mainly covers childcare, social care and health. But suggests they are not the only solutions social enterprise has to offer.
In childcare local authorities should know about the social enterprise model direct from the Government. It was the Department for Education and Schools to issue guidance to councils.
Some social enterprises also help with health. Examples quoted included the South East London Doctors' Co-operative, but it also highlighted Greenwich Leisure, which has found innovative ways of addressing the healthy living agenda.
The Government should also continue to explore social enterprise options for the delivery of health services, including primary care and healthy living centers, says the manifesto.
The NHS should also be encouraged to develop further its positive social, economic and environmental impacts on local communities through its procurement process, including the provision of services by social enterprises.
To raise awareness of the sector the manifesto says a broader approach to entrepreneurship and active citizenship should be encouraged through the school curriculum.
Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise Coalition, said: "Social enterprises are making a real difference in every part of the country. In this election year the Social Enterprise Coalition calls on all political parties to support this powerful business model so that more and more people and communities can reap the social, environmental and economic benefits."