Boris Johnson seeks ideas to support social enterprise in post-Covid ‘levelling up’

The UK prime minister Boris Johnson has praised the “innovation, flexibility and can-do spirit” of social enterprises and charities in recent months, and says his government wants to support the “valuable” role they could play in the Covid recovery phase.

In a letter addressed to Danny Kruger, the Conservative MP for Devizes in Wiltshire, Johnson also praises the “awe-inspiring” community response to Covid-19, “unprecedented” collaboration between local councils, public sector and civil society, and businesses “stepping forward to support communities”. 



He adds: “The recovery will be long and hard and it is clear our communities will need help that goes beyond both statutory welfare and economic stimulus. Government has a role to play in supporting the voluntary effort and social entrepreneurialism that have proved so valuable so far, and will be just as valuable in the years ahead.”

The letter, shared by Kruger on Twitter, asks the MP to consult widely and to propose how the government can “maximise the role” of volunteers, civil society groups and social enterprises in its “levelling up” agenda which aims to end the UK’s regional economic inequalities.

Government has a role to play in supporting the voluntary effort and social entrepreneurialism that have proved so valuable so far - Boris Johnson

Johnson asks for proposals covering areas including public procurement, social investment and business, as well as looking at potential new forms of finance to support communities and use of data and technology to improve effectiveness of charities and social enterprises. 

Kruger will be working closely with the minister for civil society Baroness Barran, with their response to be delivered by 24 July.

The Tory MP is a former speechwriter for David Cameron as leader of the opposition. After co-founding and running the crime prevention charity Only Connect, he returned to politics to advise the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as ‘civil society tzar’ helping develop its civil society strategy in 2018.

The appointment of Kruger to this latest task was welcomed by many. 

Daniel Brewer, CEO of social investment firm Resonance, told Pioneers Post he was “thrilled” given Kruger’s “genuine firsthand experience of what it’s like to work in the third sector”. However, he warned against creating “a brave new vision that takes years for people to understand and adopt… There’s just no time with the emergencies we are all facing.”

Cliff Prior, who recently took up his role as CEO of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing (GSG), responded to the news on Twitter: “Great news As you'll know I'm leading the global front in GSG now. We have initiatives from around the world some may be relevant esp social bonds on homeless, outcome models on jobs and education, purposeful corporate models & more. Happy to share.”

UnLtd CEO Mark Norbury said it was “exactly what we need”, also called it “a really exciting opportunity” for social entrepreneurs, charities, community businesses and others to “contribute to a fair, healthy, inclusive and sustainable recovery”.

Danny Kruger is seeking input by email:

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