More on Call Britannia — when is a social enterprise not a social enterprise?

I wouldn’t normally single out readers’ comments for specific mention, but Sebastien, in commenting on the post on Call Britannia here has raised a really important issue.

He says in his comment:

Sorry to rain on the parade but from what I know about this venture, this isn’t a social enterprise at all. Yes, it is great that an “enterprise” is being set up in an area of deprivation. But merely setting up a business in an area of deprivation should not, and does not make a social enterprise.

I think we have to be clear here – while this organisation may want to do “good” by employing people, the fact that it employs people does not automatically make it a social enterprise.

Essentially Karen is setting up a similar business that she sold off to the Daily Mail a number of years ago called Simply Switch – which employed people in Croydon. Perhaps using the social enterprise tag makes business sense for her now….

I wish this private enterprise well, but please use the correct labels…

So, when is a social enterprise not a social enterprise? Sebastien is probably right to be at least sceptical in this instance — but on the other hand, is it a bit too easy (or a bit too categorical) to simply say “this isn’t a social enterprise at all”? It has a social mission. A proportion of profits are gifted to a foundation to provide employment support to those who need it. It focuses its activities in areas of greatest deprivation. It has received investment from two specialist investment funds targeting businesses that make a financial and social return — Big Invest and Bridges Ventures.

Yet on the other hand, a Companies House search confirms that Call Britannia is indeed a Private Limited Company, and Big Invest’s Nigel Kershaw, quoted in an article in the Guardian recently said, “We spent time with Karen thinking what do we have to commit to, to make this a proper social enterprise, rather than just a business with some other stuff tagged on,” which seems to suggest that at least one of the investors recognises that Call Britannia is a hybrid form…

Of course, one might take the line that what would determine the real social enterprise nature of the business beyond doubt is whether it is operated on a non-profit distributing basis — i.e. is “not for personal profit”. This doesn’t appear to be the case.

But does that prevent it being a form of social enterprise? Or is there only one true form — not-for-personal-profit? Personally, I feel quite ambivalent about this. I know plenty of people in the sector who hold the latter view — that the only true form of social enterprise is not-for-personal-profit. But equally I know others who say “what matters is the social impact the enterprise achieves”.

One thing I am sure of — partly because policy and investment models are driving things in this direction — is that we will see more of these kind of private/social hybrids.

To my mind this strengthens the argument that social enterprise is a way of doing business rather than a specific, single ‘model’. But it would also suggest that some social enterprises may be “more social” than others….or, to put it another way, that some social enterprises are “more commercial” than others. Perhaps we need a new category — “private business with a social mission”?

While it might be more comfortable to simply say “this isn’t a social enterprise at all” this is to close one’s eyes to a distinct trend emerging in the social business sector. Denying the social enterprise status of such ventures doesn’t make them go away — and nor does it help us understand an increasingly grey area in the sector.

Sebastien has started a debate I hope others will join.

  1. Simon Lee Reply

    I think we have to accept that, as more and more people become aware of ‘social enterprise’ there will continue to be a range of understandings about what it actually means, particularly given that it is not as limited in legal structure as (say) a charity.

    There will also be those who ‘jump on the bandwagon’ because it is currently fashionable simply because they think there is money to be made out of it.

    This is where the proposed nationalisation of the social enterprise ‘mark’ might come in handy, provided there are clear criteria to back it up, to help the public differentiate between the social enterprises with clearly defined values and those who are simply using the name as a cover for what might otherwise be simply a business operating in a deprived area, as Sebastien suggests.

  2. Sebastien Reply

    Thanks for your response! Much appreciated.

    I just think, we throw around terms like ‘social enterprise’ that come loaded with lots of assumptions about the values and way an organisation operates – not least that a majority of its profits are put back into the business. In this instance, this is not the case. Yes, they put a nominal 2.5% into a foundation and yes, they have an aim to employ disadvantaged people – but I could point to numerous *private businesses* who do this (and more).

    I applaud all private enterprises who are doing more socially, and have a strong CSR component they want to fulfil. In many ways, the big changes to society will occur when ‘mainstream’ businesses continue to become sensitive to issues other than profit – Starbucks using Fairtrade for instance.

    But confusing a ‘social enterprise’ with a ‘business that has some social aims’ is critical to the debate. I don’t begrudge Darby setting up a business which the aim of “a potentially lucrative exit” as the Guardian article alludes to. But this does have the scent of green-washing in the social enterprise world.

    Frankly when I go in to a shop and buy Fairtrade, I want to know exactly what I’m buying – and this doesn’t mean, Fairtrade-hybrid-close-to-by-not-quite. When I buy organic, I want to know that it is organic and not almost organic. And when an organisation uses the term social enterprise, I what to know that a majority of the money goes back into the business to sustain the business and it is not a company that has a good PR company promoting its CSR agenda.

    As they say, when definitions are too broad, they become useless. And the public will become very cynical, very quickly with feel-good fuzzy terms that mean nothing and get co-opted by everyone.

  3. Tony Reply

    I am on Sebastien’s side in this debate. I met a guy called Richard Jephcott from Call Britannia at our launch event on Social Enterprise Day and had a rather heated debate with him over their model. I agree with you Alun that this is an increasingly grey area.
    In my opinion Call Britannia are exploiting the unemployed, charmingly referred to by Richard as “these people”, to subsidise a commercial venture. They are not even employing “these people” but giving them a 6 month work placement on minimum wage, paid for by the Future Jobs Fund which enables Call Britannia to undercut eg Indian call centres and gain commercial contracts. It is a private sector company wherein the senior management will share a lucrative bonus system prior to any profit declaration. Their foundation may or may not receive some portion of profits and may or may not offer support (unspecified) to the Future Jobs placements who may need it (who decides?). The social enterprise “add on” smacks to me of a commercial venture’s cynical manipulation of structure in order to circumvent state aid rules attached to public funding – clearly giving a commercial advantage in this case.

    This all brings to mind the rule changes in Animal Farm – 4 legs good 2 legs better or All enterprises are social but some are more social than others.
    Snowball – “Do you deny my ideas?”
    Napoleon – “Yes, I deny your ideas”

    Rant over – for now

  4. Jenny Turner OSW Reply

    If businesses call themselves social enterprises while funnelling substantial profits to owners or shareholders, or even via high salaries to managers,can we call them social enterprises? if the charitable foundations are set up to take some unspecified part of the profits, is this a social enterprise?

    I asked the manager of a recently-formed social enterprise, what was different from the previous 20 years of trading. ‘Oh no difference,’ he said, ‘except we’ve set up the foundation, and it’s easier now to find people to work with us.’ Thier business had expanded by more than 25% during the previous year.

    If, on the strength of self-accreditation, business call themselves social enterprises, we will need a new criterion to allocate funding which is supposed to target social enterprises. We may also wish to scrutinise the practices of potential partners and contractors. While the case remains open canny entrepreneurs will scent an edge and seek to exploit it.

  5. Dave Lane Reply

    Hi I’m a follower of BSSEC blogs, but haven’t often comented. This one I think is interesting [not that the others aren’t]so here goes!

    I tend to agree with Tony and Sebastien here. I think we need to be very clear on what a ‘social enterprise’ is. The new Social Enterprise mark, as Simon says, is a possible way of proof [or acceptability?], and perhaps needed.

    We at ISE have just achieved the social enterprise mark which puts a number of checks in place, for example:
    Trading at least 50%;
    social mission written into mem and arts
    not for personal profit etc…
    If you can’t prove this you don’t get the mark. From what I can see from the Britania model it would not come close to gaining the mark.

    However, perhaps there’s another debate to be had in amongst all this. I attended a conference in Glasgow earlier this year where Nigel Kershaw [big invest] pointed out that he was unable to invest in the CIC model because it doesn’t allow the investment to be recouped and put to another good cause. I can’t say I know the detail of why, or whteher since the conference things have moved to change this, but it’s hard to see how [if this is the case] that Big Invest can invest in social enterprises and therefore need to look for business with some social aims?

    Back to the first issue
    As a simple minimum I think we should consider the profit distribution of any social enterprise [I also think salaries should be considered here too, people should be paid and paid well, but payment should be in line with the market rates for the jobs and not excessive], as we know the new CIC structure will enable enterprises to distribute up to 50% of its profit to shareholders, whilst the other 50% would go to the social mission. The 2.5% Britania are aiming to distribute [which in real money terms could be significant] is great, but is woefully short of what the comon understanding is i.e. at least 50% and preferably all of it!

  6. Tony Reply

    Dave – do the sums. If for example they declare a £1m profit (which is unlikely after senior mgt salaries & bonuses) then 2.5% is only £25k. What will that fund? A glossy launch and PR perhaps.
    When Karen Darby makes her “potentially lucrative exit” – probably just before the Future Jobs Funding (subsidy) comes to an end – what will have been achieved? – “these people” ie the unemployed will have generated significant wealth for Karen Darby and her senior management team whilst they, the unemployed, will have had a 6 month work placement, on minimum wage, with no chance of a permanent job as another tranche of unemployed comes in every 6 months.
    The whole thing smacks of exploitation. Exploitation of vulnerable people – Exploitation of Social Enterprise – Exploitation of public funding.
    Why is no-one querying the contravention of state aid rules? Their representative was boasting that, because of Future Jobs funding for the work placements, they could afford to undercut even 3rd world call centres to gain contracts. Fantastic – exploit the unemployed here to make people unemployed elsewhere.
    The other difficulty for me is that now when someone asks me the question ” Yes but what is the difference between a social enterprise and a normal commercial enterprise?” it makes it almost impossible to answer.
    I am all for innovation and pushing the boundaries but this is just cynical exploitation – Load the cannons and stand by to repel boarders

  7. Simon Lee Reply

    On how to explain to people what a social enterprise is, I find the one quoted by the Social Enterprise Coalition on their website to be most helpful, which in turn I understand is the one the government uses:

    “businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”

    Using this definition, I can’t see how Call Britannia can be a social enterprise as it is. Put positively, it sounds more like a bit of CSR, and will be interesting to see what Big Invest or anyone else does to make them into a social enterprise (see Alun’s comments on the Guardian article above).

    On Dave’s point about investment into CICs, I had a conversation with Nigel Kershaw at Social Firms UK earlier in the year when he made some similar points.

    It is part of a wider debate about whether the CIC model (especially CICs limited by shares) encourages outside investment or whether the limits (on level of dividend and on level of interest that can be paid on loans made to it) are set so low as to discourage serious investors.

    I accept this might be getting a little bit away from the Call Britannia debate, but perhaps highlights two separate but linked issues:

    1. the CIC is a good model for demonstrating that a person has a social enterprise since the ‘asset lock’ is built in and under the supervision of the CIC Regulator; but

    2. the CIC is not suitable for everyone wanting to set up a social enterprise, especially if they are likely to want significant levels of external investment in the form of shares and / or loans. Certainly when advising people, we would always seek to go through all the different options that might be available.

  8. Dave Lane Reply

    Tony apologies for not doing the sums, you’re right ‘significant’ is certainly not the word to use, drop in the ocean might be a better expression.
    I tend to agree somewhat with Simon [which really was my point about the social enterprise mark] i.e. that there is a check on what proportion of the profits are being re-invested, that is at least 50%. I can’t say I like the CIC limited by shares structure that much, as this could lead to being more ‘driven by maximising profits’ than originally intended, but I recognise that sometimes to get investment there needs to be some pay back, but of course there is the asset lock.
    I would argue that any business that isn’t investing at least 50% of its profit is not a social enterprise. Britannia call centre is certainly not. Not even sure this is CSR.
    On a personal note I’d like to see even more of the profits re-invested and to have checks that salaries at all levels of the organisation were appropriate and of course good employer practice such as flexible family friendly working practices, investment in progression of employees etc… were all part of the mix. Social Enterprises should be leading the way.
    One final point social enterprises should also have other measures that they should be monitoring themselves against and not just what it does with its profit [as we know profit could be quite small], but also the other elements such as employment practices [as above] and their impact for example, the triple bottom line.

  9. Jan Golding Reply

    Very interesting debate and I have a couple of points to add to it:

    When I launched Roots HR CIC 9 months ago, Third Sector magazine refused to accept a press release from us, saying we were a “private company”. OK, one month into trading, with our launch funded partly by a Business Link grant and partly by me, we were not exactly into territory where I could quote our social return on investment at that point in time – but we had signed up to the CIC model and rules and intend to abide by them and I couldn’t work out what gave the editor the right to ignore Companies House and the CIC Regulator, both of whom were (and still are) very happy with our social purpose. As far as I, they and our beneficiaries are concerned, we are a social enterprise; we are evidencing this already and will do this increasingly as we become established and more financially secure.

    I more recently came across another social enterprise in name which is in fact a private limited company. I asked what made them a social enterprise and was told that they did a lot of work for others for free. Although well-established and accepted as a social enterprise, they are under no obligation to publish any social return or purpose and do not do this.

    I have no reason to doubt the motives or achievements of this other social enterprise but what I do know is this: that as the Chief Exec of a CIC, I will be held to account by the CIC regulator for delivering a community interest every year I hold this post. I am determined to do this in addition to creating a financially sustainable organisation for myself and my team. One cannot and will not exist without the other. And I find private limited companies that call themselves social enterprises without quantifying their social return in some way questionable…if you intend to deliver some form of social value then why not either set up within a business model that makes this clear, or at very least publish a charter on your website?

    There is enough confusion around the term “social enterprise” already. To me, a private limited company is not a social enterprise – but it could be a private business with elements of social mission. So let’s be completely transparent here and avoid decceiving our stakeholders – let’s name the concept, clarify the difference for everyone out there and make it a legal requirement to do so.

  10. Zulfiqar Ahmed Reply

    A very useful and healthy debate, and one thats right for our times. Whilst the term social enterprise relies on a narrow Government policy driven definition for social value (through trading, and reinventment of surpluses) creation, one could argue this in itself acts to stifle social innovation, and loses legitimate recognition that many actors (individuals, groups and private companies) are creating social value without having the binds of adopting a Government approved legal form.

    Its true that around 60% of social enterprises opt for the Company Limited by Guarantee status. The question is so what does it matter that they go for a not for personal profit structure? does the legal form they adope make them better run, better governed, better businesses, or better at creating social impact?

    I wonder if we created a deregulated zone (lets say Birmingham), where access to finance, resources and support relied on the outfits ability to grow, scale/replicate and create social impact – would a not-for-personal profit legal form be more or less important than the ability/potential to have a positive social impact? Of course we can only imagine this scenario (unless Birmingham votes for this). My sense is that what overides all the parts of the equasion is Motivation – what is the underlying motive and purpose of the ‘organisation’ and it people – ie – what do they hope to acheive and why? The Charity Commision is proposing a sort of test of this through its public benefit test. This is partly due to a lessening of public trust in charities.

    From this view hybrid’s, charities, CIC’s and the rest have an equal starting base – what matters in the end is what is that motivates them, ane what do they have the potential to acheive. iN the end, people make change, not legal structures – let people decide how they want to do that without pinning labels against them.

    If you think you are a social enterprise – you probably are!

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Hello Zulfiqar and thanks for your comment. From arguing that there may be different routes *to* social enterprise, to concluding that legal structures are irrelevant and that “if you think you’re a social enterprise, you probably are” is a big jump. I don’t think we can have a free-for-all in which the only determinants are personal motivation and self-identification as a social enterprise. Sometimes labels — some objective standards by which others can judge an organisation’s actions and conduct — are necessary. This is one of those instances.

      Such an approach would reduce social enterprise to a kind of lifestyle choice in which the only benchmark would be entirely relative — a sort of economic ‘identity politics’ in which the personal rules (“I am whatever I say I am”) and there is no means of assessing social benefit.

      Yes, motivation is important — it’s the starting point, if you like — but it can’t possibly be the only measure.

      That’s why structures that formally enshrine operating for social benefit on a not-for-personal-profit basis remain important. They aren’t a guarantee of quality, business effectiveness or social benefit, but they are a crucial starting point and say more about an enterprise, more objectively, than statements of personal motivation ever can.

  11. Deanne Dunstan Reply

    Zulfiqar..have to post a brief reply to your comment, ‘If you think you are a social enterprise – you probably are!’ These days, many third sector organisations are calling themselves social enterprises because it’s the ‘in thing’ to be. When you ask some of these organisations for their definition of ‘social enterprise’ the responses tend to focus on the social rather than the enterprise side. I don’t doubt that the majority have a social mission but what I do doubt is that the majority are actually businesses. As Alan says motivation is important as is a real passion for what you are trying to achieve but neither will keep a business afloat on their own.

  12. Karen Darby Reply

    I am delighted we have sparked such an interesting debate.

    Having read the blogs I would, however, like to clarify the facts:

    Call Britannia is a business with a clear social mission: to create jobs for the long-term unemployed and those with real barriers to employment.

    Our social targets are written into our Articles of Association.
    Our social impact will be measured and reported on through the Cabinet Office SROI framework.

    We provide outsource call centre services at commercial market rates – because our staff are worth it.

    All Call Britannia staff are on permanent contracts – not six month placements.

    We deliberately pay our staff well above the above minimum wage. Staff are on salary from the day they join us.

    We have set up a CIC to ring fence the support we have been awarded through the Future Jobs Fund which will be fully audited by the DWP.

    Our funding contributes towards the cost of providing high levels of management support, mentoring, coaching and ongoing training for young people who have been out of work for prolonged periods. For example, our four week induction training is an industry accredited programme designed to develop highly desirable and transferable skills in customer service and communication.

    Call Britannia pays 2.5% of all commercial revenue (not profit) to our Foundation to provide grant funding for our staff. Over time, this will increase to 5%. As a business, if we made 10% profit then paying 5% of revenue to our charitable foundation would equate to 50% of profits.

    Our management team are very experienced and are committed to our mission. They have all taken considerable pay cuts and/or left successful careers because they believe in Call Britannia and what we stand for. We have invested (i.e. put at risk) our own money and have put our reputations on the line. Heidi even offered to sell a kidney but I said that wasn’t necessary.

    For the record – I set up this business specifically and deliberately to help create jobs for those that need it the most because I felt compelled to do so. I believe in the potential of people, I do not care if they have relevant experience, education or training, I do not care if they have a criminal record – I’m not interested in a persons past, I am interested in helping create a better future and if that doesn’t fit with the tag ‘social enterprise’ then guess what, I don’t care.

    I am proud of Call Britannia. Here’s my personal number: 07973 396671. Call me if you want to know more about us. Better still, come to Croydon and meet the people that count.

    Karen Darby
    Founder & CEO
    Call Britannia

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Karen — thanks so much for taking time to contribute to this discussion. It’s a genuinely important debate, I think, and your setting out the facts in the way you have is really helpful. Thanks again.

  13. Sarah Forster Reply

    We welcome the debate on Call Britannia.

    For us the decision to invest in Call Britannia was not whether or not it was a social enterprise but its ability to deliver social impact at scale in the form of skills training and jobs to large numbers of long-term unemployed and those disadvantaged in the workplace. Both Big Issue Invest and Bridges have funds which can invest in a range of social organisations from the trading arms of charities to non-profit distributing social enterprises, through to socially-driven, for-profit businesses whose social and environmental benefits are considered to outweigh any private gains. Call Britannia is certainly on the right of this spectrum.

    However, we have worked hard with Call Britannia to test out their commitment to social value creation in part evidenced by the fact that management have put their own money in.

    Call Britannia’s long-term mission is to create 10,000 jobs for the unemployed. The business model is not the same as Simply Switch as has been implied. Call Britannia is purposely setting out to find and offer jobs to the most disadvantaged – its social targets are that 100% of frontline jobs are for the unemployed and at least 33% of these must be either long-term unemployed, have no post sixteen qualifications, be over 50, a lone parent, disabled or an ex-offender. The offer is six months of training, in part paid for through the Future Jobs Fund, followed by six months paid employment with Call Britannia.

    Employees will then either stay with Call Britannia for longer or be offered support to find a new job building on the skills gained or help into further training or education.

    The business plan never relied on the Future Jobs Fund and, in fact, our decision to invest was made before it became clear that Call Britannia might help meet the Future Job Fund’s goals.

    Our investment is conditional on Call Britannia meeting its social targets on an ongoing basis. We are expecting the highest standards of social impact measurement from them. Right now the Call Britannia team is working to put together an SROI Impact Map and systems to monitor and evaluate their impact. They have also agreed to an annual independent social audit.

    Call Britannia’s approach to generating social impact is one of many that are emerging in this fast evolving sector. Our hope is that, by supporting a range of different models and sharing our experience, we will be able to help establish the most effective and sustainable models which will maximise social impact for the benefit of all.

    Sarah Foster
    Director of Development
    Big Issue Invest

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Hello Sarah — Thanks for taking time to respond and for recognising the importance of this discussion.

  14. Nick Temple Reply

    A little late to the debate, but anyway….

    For us (as with Zulfiqar at UnLtd), we’re often working with social entrepreneurs who are yet to constitute or set up their organisation: who have a mission / goal they are trying to achieve, and who choose the activities, financing, governance and legal structure fit to achieving that mission. Sometimes that’s a registered charity; sometimes that’s a CIC; sometimes that’s within the public sector; sometimes that’s a for-profit structure. And a whole variety of other models / hybrid versions of any of the above.

    There are different ‘camps’ in this debate: those who place most importance on the social impact; those for whom social ownership is crucial; those for whom traded + earned income is a key component; and so on.

    For us, after 12 years in this space, it’s about focusing on delivery rather than debate, and emphasising the importance (regardless of legal structure) of:
    – the quality of what you do
    – measuring (and communicating) the social impact of your work
    – the transparency of how you operate
    – your stakeholder involvement

    And those are done in different ways by different people depending on where they are coming from (great transparency, for example, by Karen and Sarah to post up comments here). People’s motivations and skills are important because, ultimately, this is a people-powered movement, not one powered by structures or regulations.

    • Alun Severn Reply

      NIck, Thanks for your comments — never too late to the debate.

      I agree (as will many, I’m sure) that this is a movement powered by people rather than by structures and regulations, and therefore of course motivations and skills are crucial.

      But I do thik that structures and regulations are what provide the movement with credibility: they help us demonstrate that we are what we say we are, they help us show that we do what we say we do.

      And the more ‘hybrids’ there are in the marketplace, the more important public credibility will become. In just the same way that the charitable sector cannot afford — for reasons of trust, transparency and credibility — to have charities that are not really charities, I think the social enterprise sector will similarly find that it cannot afford to have social enterprises that are not really social enterprises.

      The more I think about this the more convinced I am that while there may well be different routes to social enterprise, ultimately we do have to be defined by structures and regulations that can be trusted — that mean what they say.

      I can’t see a viable way round that — and by ‘viable’ I mean a way that isn’t in the long-term detrimental to the concept of social enterprise….

  15. Ben Parkinson Reply

    Interesting to read a bunch of comments on this key issue.

    The way I look at it is this. Why was this business created? What is its prime purpose? If I can say that it was set up to create social impact and not primarily to make profit, then it is a social enterprise. If it is a business, which is looking at ways to create some additional social impact, using its residual profits, then clearly it is still a commercial business.

    So it is in the “thinking” of the Board or directors, where the difference is made. Are they preserving their social objectives or are they preserving their profits instead? If it is a mix, then which comes first?

    In some ways that means that some people will never run social enterprises, as they cannot bring themselves to focus on social impact ahead of profit. In fact, many of these business people use the social impact to enhance their profits, through PR, CSR work etc. This is no criticism of this style of business, which is equally critical to our market, by the way.

    What is very important, however, is that the importance of a core or essence of altruism in social enterprise is never diluted, as it is this inner being, which makes the form special. It allows genuine, kind and selfless people to become social business owners, where in a traditional business, these people would be uncompetitive.

    Lastly, how does this fit into the developing world? Competition in Africa is rarely a critical issue. Efficiency, vision and quality play a much larger role. So, thus a vision for alleviating poverty with one’s business is less restricted by the ruthless free market economy which forces all to focus on profit at all costs. In Africa, many run small businesses like fishing or farming to support those in need and these are true social enterprises, as the people choose not to run these purely for themselves, but to extend them to others living in their locale, although many will have to work to earn their keep.

    The issue of the 50% trading badge for social enterprise I thus dismiss too, as a social entrepreneur does not restrict his or her income to commercial operations. Every possible means is used to maximise social objectives and it matters not where those strands of income come from – it is the social impact which matters. Or are we saying that the definition of a social entrepreneur and a social enterprise are strangely different?

    So – why not be “inclusive” with the definitions of social enterprise? Let us all be one happy family, where the lines of business and social business are often crossed?

    Well I say that do this at your peril. Allow yourself to be swallowed up by a huge, selfish and powerful fish that has no understanding that CSR is not the same as prioritising social impact. In time the term “social” will be dropped and we will all be back to square one.

    One might remember a sketch from Spitting Image in the 1980s. David Owen and David Steele are in bed together discussing the future of the SDP. They seem to be getting on well. David Steele says to David Owen “So how will we choose the new leader of the SDP/Liberal Alliance?” David Owen replies “Well we will use your first name and my second name.” David Steele smiles and then says “Well what about the name of the party?” David Owen replies “We use the the same technique. From my party we use the words “Social Democratic” and from yours we use the word “Party”….

  16. Nick Temple Reply

    Ben – like your comments. I would agree that it starts, ultimately, with mission / motivation. If you’re in it for social impact or financial motives overall. This, equally, is why relying on structures alone for credibility + trust is problematic. Legal structures don’t (or can’t) guarantee you someone’s motivation or mission. I guess for us credibility does not just come through structures + regulations, but from (trusted) relationships, from a track record of transparent operations, from proving social impact, from earning legitimacy and so on.

    • Alun Severn Reply

      Nick — I agree that structures and regulations *alone* cannot earn a SE its reputation — this, as you rightly say, is earned from “(trusted) relationships, from a track record of transparent operations, from proving social impact, from earning legitimacy”…

      But I do still think that structures plus regulations offer an additional surety — if you like, the reputation you earn is underpinned and demonstrated by structures and regulation…. These are not mutually exclusive — quitethe reverse: they need to go hand-in-hand.

Leave a Reply