Labour comes out in support of social enterprise

The burgeoning influence of the social enterprise sector was acknowledged in the first manifesto published before the British election today.  

The opposition Labour party outlined their support for "charities, mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises", which it described as "pioneering new models of production that enhance social value, promote financial inclusion, and give individuals and communities power and control."

Deciding factors for UK voters are more likely to be the various party policies on some of the bigger issues such as the NHS, the economy and taxation. However, Labour’s announcement could prove influential for voters increasingly suspicious of political motives. 

The banks were widely considered to be the culprits responsible for the hardships endured by the majority of us as a result of the recession. Now Labour is proposing a bank that will give something back.

Despite addressing only one aspect of the difficulties in establishing social businesses, the announcement went on to say that the party "will continue to support and help develop the social economy by improving access for co-operative and mutual organisations to growth finance through the new British Investment Bank."

The case for such an institution was first proposed by banking lawyer Nick Tott at the think-tank website Your Britain back in 2012. Labour supporters were invited to read the report and feedback. The inclusion of the idea in the manifesto would suggest that policy makers consider it a winner.

Summarising his report for the Guardian he proposed a bank "operating on a commercial basis and independent from government, but with an express public policy mission."

With a public appreciative of the financial recovery that is under way and wary of a return to a time of tightening belts, politicians have been only too willing to accuse their opposition colleagues of not doing their sums.

So how would such a bank be funded? Although the Labour Party have not expanded on their proposal at this time and Tott is a little vague, he does suggest that funds could be channelled from National Savings and Investments, the state owned savings bank. 

With manifestos from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats expected over the next few days, we'll soon find out how interesting (or not) the social enterprise space is to the coalition parties.


Photo credit: Ed Miliband