Extra Boost For Social Enterprise Trailblazers

Trailblazing social enterprise schemes are to get financial support this year to explore innovative ways of providing health and social care, in addition to the investment already promised from April 2007. Announcing investment of £1m for this year at a speech to NHS Networks, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said:

“Social enterprises make a significant contribution to the economy of the UK. But equally importantly, they really transform the way services are delivered, empowering people to make a difference to their communities. Today I invite entrepreneurial organisations and individuals to join our social enterprise pathfinder programme. They will have access to a package of support from my Department, tailored to their specific business needs.”

She continued: “We have a clear vision to develop a patient-led NHS that uses all available resources to promote health, reduce health inequalities and deliver the best and safest care. We need to offer patients and service users greater choice and personalised care.”

Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, said: “I welcome the pathfinder initiative. The benefits of social enterprise are still not widely understood. The pathfinders initiative will support some fantastic new social enterprises across health and social care and will demonstrate the benefits that this model brings to patients, service users, staff, and communities.”

The recent white paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say, outlined the Government’s determination to design services for the whole person.

Social enterprise has a robust history of delivering innovative and flexible solutions. For example, the ECT Group started out with just three vehicles in 1979, providing community transport to the residents of Ealing. Today, the group has five companies providing recycling, transport and engineering services to more than 18 local authorities.

The Department of Health created a Social Enterprise Unit in June this year, to encourage innovation and entrepreneurialism in health and social care.

Sue White, Head of the Department of Health Social Enterprise Unit said: “We want to work with existing and emerging social enterprise organisations and commissioners to create and support a vibrant social enterprise sector in health and social care. We have received many queries and contacts from people who are interested in social enterprise – this is tremendously encouraging.”