“Establishing social enterprises under the Right to Request Programme” — NAO report sparks row

The National Audit Office has just published “Establishing social enterprises under the Right to Request Programme”, an examination of the government’s right to request programme. The fully report and summary can be downloaded from  the NAO website here.

While acknowledging that the live sample of social enterprises spun-out under RtR is small and most by definition are in their early trading stages — 20 new social enterprises have so far been established as a consequence of RtR — the NAO report is critical of the programme for failing to set value for money, savings or other added value measures which would enable the performance of these businesses to be properly evaluated.

The Dept of Health did not explicitly set out the expected benefits of the Right to Request Programme, says the report, because it believed it was contributing to meeting the wider objectives of the Dept’s Transforming Community Services programme.

The NAO is concerned that by not explicitly setting out objectives or contracting for additional benefits, the PCTs are reducing the likelihood that these benefits will be delivered.

SEC’s Peter Holbrook has slammed the NAO’s value-for-money assessment here.


  1. Simon Lee Reply

    I must confess to being a bit biased, in that we have worked (and are working) with a number of organisations going through this process or an equivalent, but I agee with the SEC’s response in that it must be too early to conduct a proper evaluation on such a small sample.

    However, it is also fair to say (as it is of anything) that it is easier to assess value after the event if clear parameters for the assessment are in place in the beginning. To be fair, the NAO’s remit is based on assessing value.

    Time, of course, will tell whether or not Right to Request and its equivalent processes have been a success, but (at least based on those we have worked with and are working with) social enterprise does have a valuable and important role to play in the future provision of health services.

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