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A progress report on Social Enterprise: a strategy for success

The Government’s strategy for social enterprise, published in July 2002, sets out the Government’s three-year programme for action to promote and sustain social enterprise. It also commits the Government to publishing its first report by the end of October 2003, on progress made to implement the strategy, including a renewed action plan for the future. A progress report on Social Enterprise: a strategy for success, published on 28 October, fulfils this commitment.

To download a copy of this report click here (473 Kb).

To order a printed copy of the report, please order online at
Alternatively copies can be ordered via the DTI's Publications orderline on 0870 150 2500, quoting URN 03/1361A.

A flyer is also available introducing the progress report.  A progress report on Social Enterprise: a strategy for success.  An Introduction can be downloaded here (80 Kb).

To order a printed copy of the flyer please order online at  Alternatively copies can be ordered via the DTI's Publications orderline on 0870 150 2500,  quoting URN 03/1361.

Executive Summary


'A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.'

'By end October 2003, the Government will publish its first report on progress on social enterprise, to show what has been achieved so far and set out a renewed action plan for the future.'
Social Enterprise: a strategy for success (2002)

This report sets out the progress to date in implementing the Government's Social Enterprise: a strategy for success.

Published in July 2002, the strategy articulates the Government's vision of dynamic and social enterprise, strengthening an inclusive and growing economy.

It set out a three year action plan to tackle barriers to the growth of the social enterprise sector and achieve three key outcomes:

  • create an enabling environment;
  • make social enterprises better businesses; and
  • establish the value of social enterprise.

During the first year of the strategy, we have begun work to deliver across all of these outcomes. Co-ordinated by the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) Social Enterprise Unit, this has involved working with key stakeholders including central government, devolved administrations, Regional Development Agencies, local authorities, individual social enterprises and intermediary bodies.

We have laid the foundations for change in the longer term while also supporting a range of more immediate actions. Through contact with the sector, we have identified areas where, within the overall strategic framework set last year, further action is needed.

This report provides an overview of key actions to date and highlights our key priorities as we continue to implement the strategy over the next two years.

Across the United Kingdom

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland plans and actions for social enterprise are now being taken forward.

Regional Development Agencies and Government Offices have played a positive role in helping to realise the potential of the social enterprise sector in England. The significant progress made in this first year would not have been achieved without their active support.

To date, action has fallen broadly into three areas:

  • improving the evidence base
    eg mapping, social accounting tools
  • structures and networking
    eg joint working and partnership; facilitating networking; integrated business support; awareness raising; trade fairs.
  • technical assistance eg capacity building; asset transfer; support for CDFIs; other specialist finance (grants and loans); provision of incubation space; web based services; trade promotion; increasing capability of Business Links Operators to support social enterprise.

Summary of highlights and future priorities

Create an enabling environment

Highlights of year 1

  • Publication of Private Action, Public Benefit which recommended changes to the legislative framework for the voluntary and community sector, including social enterprise.
  • Consultation on a potential new form of company designed to meet the needs of some social enterprises, the Community Interest Company.
  • Publication of The role of the voluntary and community sector in service deliver which set out how central and local government could work more effectively with the sector, including social enterprises, to deliver high quality public services.
  • Development of futurebuilders, a 125m investment fund to assist voluntary and community organisations in England, including social enterprises, in their public service work.
  • Production of a public procurement toolkit for social enterprises who want to win public sector business.

Priorities for future action

  • We will take forward work on legal forms. When Parliamentary time permits, it is planned to introduce legislation on the Community Interest Company and set up the regulator. Work will go forward on regulations to create an asset 'lock-in' for Industrial and Provident Societies; and the new legal form for charities, the Charitable Incorporated Organisation.
  • We will progress the futurebuilders fund so that it is in operation by the end of the Financial Year 2003-04.
  • We will ensure promotion of the new public procurement toolkit for social enterprises and we will work with the Social Enterprise Coalition and partners to ensure social enterprises benefit from it.
  • We will continue to work with partners in local government and others in the public sector to promote greater involvement of social enterprise and the voluntary and community sector more generally in solutions to deliver local services. A new review led by Treasury will assess government departments' progress in such involvement.

Make social enterprises better businesses

Highlights of year 1

  • Government strategy for small business now includes social enterprise.
  • All Business Link Operators required, since April 2003, to include support for social enterprises in their business plans.
  • All DTI Small Business Service business support products now as open to eligible social enterprises as to other types of businesses.
  • Bank of England published first ever review of the financing of social enterprises.
  • 23 Community Development Finance institutions (CDFIs) accredited by September 2003. These organisations intend to raise approximately 100 million of investment over the next three years.

Priorities for future action

  • We will work with the Small Business Service and others to deliver a consistent level of excellence throughout the BLO network and to increase the take-up of BLO services, either directly, or through others, by social enterprises, including those involving under-represented groups.
  • We will ensure that the new Business Support Directory is not only open to eligible social enterprises but is easily accessible by and known to them and we will take steps to encourage social enterprises to make use of what is available.
  • We will support those, like the Social Enterprise Partnership, (GB) Ltd, and Social and Community Enterprise Training Consortium and others, who are developing and delivering high quality, specialist support, training and advice for social enterprises and their advisers and we will encourage them to take up appropriate training and look at any barriers limiting this.
  • We will follow up the Bank of England's review of financing of social enterprise and take forward further work on the key recommendations from the follow-up seminar and related Finance and Funding Working Groups held in the summer of 2003.
  • We will continue to work with others on the barriers facing social enterprises when they seek to acquire assets and consider what more may be done to improve their ability to run them effectively for the benefit of their clients and communities.
  • We will continue to work to improve understanding and encourage consistency of application of the regulations relating to 'clawback'.

Establish the value of social enterprise

Highlights of year 1

  • Publication in July 2003 of a research report, Guidance on mapping social enterprise, reviewing the extent of existing knowledge of the sector; drawing out good practice in mapping social enterprise; and recommending a methodology to map social enterprise UK-wide.
  • Raising the profile of successful social enterprise, for example through the Enterprising Solutions National Social Enterprise Award.
  • Supporting a strong and inclusive voice for the sector by providing strategic funding for, and working with, the Social Enterprise Coalition.
  • Supporting research into the identification and development of quality and impact tools that meet the needs of social enterprises by funding, and raising the profile of, the work of the Social Enterprise Partnership (GB) Ltd.

Priorities for future action

  • We will conduct a UK-wide social enterprise mapping exercise to provide information on the size of the social enterprise sector, the number of people it employs and its contribution to the UK economy.
  • We will continue to raise the profile of social enterprise through awards, media coverage, visits, speaking events and publications.
  • We will continue to support and work with the Social Enterprise Coalition as it becomes a strong, fully inclusive voice for the sector.
  • We will continue to work with the Social Enterprise Partnership (GB) Ltd and others on impact measurement with the long-term aim of identifying a framework of effective tools and techniques, including social audit that meet the needs of social enterprises and mainstream small businesses.

Making sure it happens

From the beginning, the Government's approach has been to listen to those involved in social enterprise. Throughout the year, there have been regular, honest exchanges with key stakeholders and with a wide range of individual social enterprises. Their views have been sought on a range of Government proposals affecting the sector. We are grateful to those who have contributed to these many consultations and to the members of the Implementation Group for their much valued advice and support. We will continue to work closely with stakeholders in an open and transparent way to ensure that the strategy remains relevant and effective.

The DTI's Social Enterprise Unit will continue to be the focal point in Government for ensuring delivery of the strategy over the next two years.  

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