Ed Miliband aims to “spread the gospel” of social enterprise

Former Labour leader turned podcast host Ed Miliband is on a mission to push social enterprise back up the political agenda.

Speaking to Pioneers Post ahead of the launch of today’s edition of the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast in which Miliband and his co-host Geoff Lloyd discuss ethical business, Miliband said he believed that social enterprise deserved to be back on the political agenda.

Ed Miliband was minister for the third sector in 2007 under prime minister Gordon Brown, a role in which he championed the burgeoning social enterprise sector. He told Pioneers Post: “I hope that social enterprise gets more traction than it has in the last few years, because I think it has dropped off the political agenda and it deserves to be back on it.

He said he thought that the financial crisis and Brexit had contributed to pushing social enterprise away from centre stage.

He added: “We want to spread the gospel... We should be thinking again about the wider reforms to help the sector. I don’t think the tax system and the company ownership system are geared up to help social enterprises, I think they’re geared up to discriminate against them.”

I think social enterprise has dropped off the political agenda and it deserves to be back on it

Radio presenter Lloyd (pictured above far right) and Miliband (left) set up the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast earlier this year to offer listeners ideas "to feel optimistic about in a time of much divide". The series features weekly interviews with experts on topics which have included co-operatives, education, vegetarianism and the universal basic income.

In the latest edition, released today, the hosts interview SEUK CEO Peter Holbrook and Belu Water CEO Karen Lynch about companies which exist for social or environmental purpose, as well as profit.

Lynch, who in 2017 received the SE100 leadership award and is also a member of the WISE100, told Pioneers Post: “I had an absolute ball in the loft studio. Ed, Geoff and our own Peter Holbrook were intelligent and funny.

"There’s never been a better time for social enterprise to stand together and raise awareness of the fact there is a better way to do business. With consumer trust in politics, business, media and NGOs declining, we need to translate our impact data into value, and get our stories out there.”

While Holbrook, said: “We’re living in troubling times but if there’s ever a reason to be cheerful it’s thinking about the incredible potential social enterprises can make to building a fairer, more sustainable world.

As I said in the podcast, we should no longer accept conventional models of economics or business. Old industrial models of business built and designed to achieve shareholder value at any cost feel outdated and out of touch. Businesses must adapt to address the global challenges we face.”

Pioneers Post subscribers will be able to read our full interview with Geoff and Ed in Pioneers Post Quarterly issue 11, which will be published in September. Get your copy by subscribing here.

You can find the Reasons to be Cheerful podcast here.