It seems strange to see a brand new social enterprise advertising its first job in the British Medical Journal at a starting salary of £70k, but that is the case with Anglian Community Enterprise, the new provider arm — a CIC — for North Essex PCT.
Launched at the beginning of this year with 1,082 staff, contracts worth £35m, 40 service lines and a target customer base of 318,000 people, ACE must surely be one of the largest social enterprise employers anywhere in the country let alone in the south-east.
There’s a very interesting interview (pp. 16/17) with ACE’s assistant director of transformation in ‘In Touch’, the magazine of Social Enterprise East of England. This charts ACE’s two-year journey from Right to Request ‘pathfinder’ to new-start CIC.
But are these public sector behemoths really social enterprises? Should we love them for the scale, size and credibility they bring to the sector, or fear them as trojan horses of privatisation? In the same issue of In Touch (p.18) Craig Dearden-Phillips argues that these new externalisations should be supported because they represent the shape of the future, reflecting the ‘tectonic’ changes going on within public service delivery: ‘never again’, he says, ‘will the state do so much itself’.
This is probably one the biggest and most far-reaching of the current debates in social enterprise.
Thanks to Billy Nichol at SEEE for the links to these articles.
I wouldn’t normally single out comments like this, but there is a chance that if I don’t the comment below may get missed — and it is really worth reading:
Jan Golding at Roots HR says (see comments):
I’m so happy to see any enterprise of any shape or form advertisng a job right now, especially one at 70k!
I advocate that we all give Anglian Community Enterprise a chance right now. Some very brave people in there will be believing in the power of what they can achieve as an SE and living, daily, to persuade others that they can do this too. There will be a phenomenal number of pressures on the managment team and Board (if in any doubt at all about this, just start your own SE, any size will do). Those who hold the vision will be awestruck by what others will do in the name of this organisation. “Thank you for believing in us” will, right now, just seem lame.
I know from personal experience what it’s like when others don’t believe in you. I’ve been that new kid on the SE block. There was no “spin out” for me, just a 1-woman start up in a new area with a redundant partner, a mortgage and a social mission. Roots HR CIC was immediately dismissed by the third sector media as “just another trading company”. However many hurdles I expected when we launched, I never expected that one; I now know that doubt just makes me work harder! Two years on, no investment or funding and working for over 55 fee paying clients from a standing start, we are a vibrant, passionate, professional team and a sustainable organisation which has, to date, reinvested trading surpluses to the value of almost £20k, to the benefit of over 40 pro bono clients.
So can we please give Anglian and all their sister spin-outs a chance? They have enough challenges and they need our support, not our suspicion. They may have scale on their side but that simply amplifies the risks and the issues. I look forward to seeing what Anglian achieve in their first 2 years and wish them the very best of luck. And a huge thank you to those of you who believed in me and in Roots HR. We have so much more to do.