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  • Writer's pictureRoxy Piper

Opportunities for Social Entrepreneurs this Spring!

A pathbreaking new programme of support designed for social enterprises, coops, community groups, and small businesses with a social purpose begins this month. New Prosperity Devon is partnering with the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Stir to Action and Devon

Communities offer a variety of training and 1-2-1 coaching with potential grant support to organisations creating social value.

Social enterprises have a special contribution to make to an inclusive recovery after

Covid disruption and provide social and environmental benefits as well as financial incomes.

This why we welcome being part of Devon’s Social Entrepreneurs Programme,

where we will be supporting social enterprises to understand how to become providers for local institutions, and to how to bid for public sector contracts.

If you’re interested in finding new customers by supplying local institutions (local

authorities, educational institutions, NHS trusts, public services etc) our workshops in

March and April can give you a head start in bidding for contracts.

Enterprises seeking to win procurement and commissioning contracts with local

governments need to know about their procurement processes, show they can

provide value for money, and also to set out how they will deliver ‘social value’ priorities.

If you would like to receive support to be procurement ready please register

What are social enterprises?

Enterprises with a social purpose (like mutuals, community benefit societies,

Community Land Trusts, co-ops and some community organisations and charities)

are generally formed to provide goods and services the community needs. For this

programme, small business which meet local needs and provide social or

environmental value can also take part.

Most social enterprises have democratic forms of governance. They earn income

from what they provide, and distribute that money according to their aims, eg return

profits to employees or customers, or re-invest for their charitable purpose. A healthy

sector of these enterprises contributes to meeting local needs, to a vibrant economy

in which the benefits are distributed locally (rather than flowing to distant


What is the Social Value Act, what’s new, and why is it relevant?

The Public Services (Social Value) Act came into effect in 2013. It encourages local authorities, along with the rest of the public sector, to use procurement to achieve wider financial and non-financial outcomes, including improving wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment. It enabled public sector organisations to consider social value when assessing bids from suppliers to provide services, and from Jan 1st 2021, guidance has been updated to say that they should do so.

The Cabinet Office believes this new approach, mandating that both value for money and social value are considered, will provide more opportunities for SMEs and social enterprises. (See Procurement Policy Note PPN 06/20 for further details). The underlying aim is for the government to use its buying power to do good beyond the actual asset being purchased. Something which will sound all too familiar to Social Enterprises, Cooperatives, and forward thinking SMEs this may sound like the ‘triple bottom line’, the name for the social, environmental and financial gauge for the level of corporate social responsibility your business is aiming for.

In 2022 local authorities, and other anchor institutions like the NHS are planning on how to recover from, and prepare for multiple crises in our economy for example recovery from covid-19, as well as the housing, ecological crisis and catastrophic climate change, through their commissioning and procurement practises.

The Social Value Model, as set out in the guidance which came into effect Jan 1st 2021, on which departments will assess procurement contracts includes:

  • supporting Covid-19 recovery, including helping local communities manage and recover from the impact of Covid and reducing the demand on health and care services

  • tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience and capacity

  • Tackling climate change and effective stewardship of the environment including working towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions other ways to support environmental protection and improvement in the supply chain

  • driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality including those from disadvantaged or minority groups

  • improve health and wellbeing, and improve community integration, including demonstration of collaboration with people in the local communities to co-design services

For the public sector to meet the requirements set out in the Social Value Act their suppliers must now go beyond for example a contract building care homes to provide housing for carers and those that need care; the contractor or housing provider must also commit to deliver additional environmental benefits in the performance of the contract including working towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions, or be committed to support skills development and other in-work progression that helps people, including those from disadvantaged or minority groups, to move into higher paid work, or some other kind of local initiative relevant to the project that furthers the public good.

The Social Value Act is a win-win situation for the public sector and Social Enterprises as this kind of innovation may well already be being met within their current or planned activities. And many social enterprises are already rooted in their local communities; they are well placed to achieve those wider benefits beyond financial outcomes in ways that build resilient communities and begin to regenerate local economies.

In many cases SMEs and Social Enterprises may have been too busy with day to day running of their business and doing social good to keep up to date with current government legislation. We also understand that unlike larger companies, SMEs and social enterprises do not always have teams of people in place to promote and measure their social value scores when bidding for work so may need additional support to become ready.

If you would like to explore how to supply the public sector and get ready to bid for contracts please register your interest here.

If you work for local authorities, healthcare or other public sector organisations and would like to hear more about the social and environmental value that social enterprises can offer, how it can be measured and accounted for, and how they can contribute to best value commissioning and procuring, we'll be offering a further couple of workshops on this in March and April. Please register please contact us by using our contact form here or send an email to:

More from other partners on the Devon Social Entrepreneur Programme

Are you looking to start up a project for good, or accelerate the impact of your social enterprise, charity or community business? Discover the Devon Social Entrepreneurs Programme – an exciting range of fully-funded support including, workshops, events, networks, one-to-one consultancy, grant (money you don’t pay back) and an entrepreneurship support programme.

Discover the support available here from February to June 2022. This programme is open to all social entrepreneurs. We are particularly looking to support enterprises working in community food, community housing and community wellbeing. Application deadline has been extended to 1pm, 17th Feb 2022.

Are you aged 18-30 years old and want to create new enterprise ideas to secure a sustainable future for Devon’s local economy? Are you passionate about the power of co-operatives, putting people at the heart of economic development? Then the Founders for The Future programme might be what you have been waiting for. The application deadline is 21st Feb 2022.

The programme is led by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in partnership with Devon County Council, Devon Communities Together, Stir to Action and New Prosperity Devon. It is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund, which is managed by Devon County Council within the Devon area.

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