Milburn 'lacks enterprise ideas'

Alan Milburn, Labour's election supremo, promised a drive to bring social enterprises "in from the cold" last week.

Speaking at the Social Enterprise Coalition's annual conference in Manchester, he said social enterprise should become "as integral to public service delivery as the public or private sectors".

But Milburn's speech, which was remarkably similar to the one he gave at Acevo's conference last May when he hailed the voluntary sector as the "third way" in public service delivery, was short on concrete proposals.

The coalition's chief executive Jonathan Bland called on Milburn to turn words into action.

"We welcome his commitment to deepening the role played by social enterprises in spreading opportunity and unleashing aspiration," he said. "We now challenge the Government to make these commitments a reality."

The coalition has issued a five-point challenge to all political parties in the run-up to the general election. The demands include tax relief for companies outside the charity sector that deliver substantial public benefit, and ensuring social enterprises are represented on the boards of Regional Development Agencies.

Milburn went on to call for improvements in short-term and tentative contracts. "A level playing field for public sector procurement is urgently needed," he said. "And we need to work together to make it happen."

He added that social enterprises could help to run community leisure centres and local parks.

- See Finance, p15

FACT FILE

- Milburn says social enterprise should be integral to public service delivery, but stops short of concrete proposals

- Coalition welcomes increased commitment but urges the Government to turn words into action

- Five-point challenge from the coalition includes calls for tax relief for companies that deliver public benefit.

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