Social enterprise 'lacks support'

Social enterprise is not taken seriously by the Government, according to a poll by the Social Enterprise Coalition.

The survey found that 94 per cent of chief executives of social enterprises believe government departments such as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Work and Pensions often fail to recognise social enterprises.

And 92 per cent claimed ministers did not value the benefits of social enterprise - such as creating employment or community regeneration. Just under 90 per cent said there was not a level playing field in bidding for public sector contracts.

The Social Enterprise Coalition, whose annual conference in Manchester yesterday was addressed by Labour election chief Alan Milburn, has told the Government to "step up a gear" in its support for the sector. The coalition has issued a five-point plan that proposes tax relief for firms that deliver public benefit. It also wants social enterprises to be given a key role in the delivery of public services.

The Government revealed its plans to merge the Social Enterprise Unit in the DTI with the Small Business Service earlier this month.

Coalition chief executive Jonathan Bland said: "The Government has taken significant steps forward by promoting social enterprise, such as the establishment of the DTI's Social Enterprise Unit and the creation of a new legal form - the Community Interest Company. But as our survey shows, it is time for the Government to step up a gear if the potential of social enterprise is to be realised."

FACT FILE

- More than 90 per cent of social enterprise chief executives believe the Government doesn't recognise social enterprise or see its benefits

- More than 80 per cent of those surveyed think there isn't a level playing field when they bid for public sector contracts

- Social Enterprise Coalition wants special tax reliefs for businesses that show public benefit.

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