Two badges will be available – one to social enterprises themselves, and another to the organisation’s non-social enterprise members, allowing them to identify themselves as supporters of the movement.
"The badges are designed to enable members to identify themselves as social enterprises or social enterprise supporters in a way that is consistent and recognisable," the organisation said on its website. "We’ve done this in response to our members’ feedback. They said they wanted clearer recognition of their social enterprise or social enterprise supporter status."
A Social Enterprise Mark, designed to act as an identifier for social enterprises, already exists, having been launched by Social Enterprise UK at its annual conference in February 2010. But the criteria for the badge are looser than those for the mark.
In particular, the badge does not contain a reference to any requirement for social enterprises to pass on their assets to another social enterprise or charity if they are wound up. This requirement, known as an asset lock, is included in the criteria for the mark.
A spokeswoman for SEUK said that the differing criteria recognised that some of its members had been set up in the early days of social enterprise, before the importance of an asset lock was widely recognised, and that the badge was not intended to exclude them.
A social enterprise identifier for Scotland, the Social Enterprise Code of Practice, was launched last year by Senscot, the network for Scottish social entrepreneurs. The Social Enterprise Mark and the new badge allow members to distribute up to 50 per cent of their profits to shareholders; the Scottish code says that a social enterprise should not distribute profits.
Laurence Demarco, founder of Senscot, suggested in his organisation’s weekly bulletin that the new badge represented a weakening of the principles of the social enterprise movement’s principles.
"In England, social enterprise appears to be adapting itself to accommodate the private gain that drives the normal economy," he said. "In Scotland, there appears to be more appetite to keep social enterprise distinct – to explore a different way of organising economic activity."