Less than a year ago John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, vowed to put social enterprise at the heart of parliament. Now it's official. The Lords and the Commons have been awarded the We Buy Social badge – Social Enterprise UK's stamp of approval for organisations committed to buying from social enterprises. Parliamentarians can already get fit with gym services from Better and quench their thirst with water from Belu. We anticipate more institutions will follow, in a bid to use their purchasing power to benefit people and planet.
How we invest is also in the spotlight. In the last Autumn Statement before the general election, the Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered good news for the social economy in the form of measures to strengthen the UK's growing social investment market. Changes to social investment tax relief will help get larger investments flowing into social enterprises and charities – up to £5m a year. That's another excuse to invest socially. Soon, investment portfolios could be teeming with social investments.
Social enterprise isn't all procurement and policy. Putting a bit of glitz and glamour into the sector were this year's Social Enterprise Awards. Social enterprises were indeed very much in evidence at the bash – beer, water, catering and entertainment were all sourced from them. Prizes were handed out by the comedian Sue Perkins. Clutching a bar of Divine chocolate – the firm was winner of the Social Enterprise of the Year Award – Perkins declared: "I will always buy social."
Sam Simmons is head of media and communications at Social Enterprise UK