Social Enterprise UK chief wants 'complementary' relationship with national bodies

Peter Holbrook says he sensed no fears from Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish bodies about name change

Peter Holbrook
Peter Holbrook

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, has said he sought the backing of umbrella bodies for social enterprise in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before choosing the new name for his organisation.

Holbrook was answering criticism from social enterprise bodies in Scotland and Wales, which said it was wrong for the former Social Enterprise Coalition to choose a name that suggested it represented the whole of the UK.

"I went up to Scotland in May and presented the early workings to our colleagues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland," said Holbrook. "I didn’t leave that meeting with the feeling that there were serious concerns about the use of the Social Enterprise UK name.

"We have members across the UK, we negotiate with the UK government in Whitehall and we represent social enterprises on UK-wide policy matters such as pensions, tax and Big Society Capital.

"I think we should be seen as having a complementary relationship with the national umbrella bodies. We don’t seek to compete with them to represent their members."

Laurie Russell, chair of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, said he was supportive of the new name and identity and that his organisation was considering changing its name to Social Enterprise Scotland to fit in with the new identity.

But Laurence Demarco, director of the Scottish social entrepreneurs body Senscot, a separate organisation, said the name change was "objectionable".

"In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, social enterprise is almost entirely a devolved matter – we have our own bespoke government programmes and representative bodies," Demarco said in Senscot’s email bulletin, released today. "For the English intermediary to assume that it represents us is objectionable – a lack of understanding and of respect."

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