S2S Fair 2010

Posted: 21 April 2010, in Sector News

The Scottish Government is committed to providing business support to grow the social enterprise sector, a senior civil servant said today.

Christine Carlin, Deputy Director for the Third Sector at the Scottish Government, told delegates at today’s S2S fair in Edinburgh that the third sector needed to grow to be able to deliver public services.

She said that social enterprise was not all about ‘delicious chocolate or bread’, but it also had a key role to play in delivering public services in areas like reducing the reoffending rate and care services.

‘It’s about goods and services that thrive on merit, not sympathy, and it’s a model that understands people,’ she said.

‘The Scottish Government is committed to supporting social enterprise as part of an enterprising third sector. It’s committed to providing business support and supporting the economy to increase the role the third sector in delivering public services.’

Brian Tannerhill, CEO of McSence, a social enterprise providing employment and regenerations services, opened today’s event, the fifth S2S social enterprise fair organised by the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition.

He said that social enterprises not only needed to grow, but firstly needed to survive the recession. McSence, he said, had £5m of assets through new buildings.

‘Any assets in bricks and mortar are recommended, especially in the recession,’ he said.

However, he added that support was also key to sustainability and praised the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition for being the supporting  ‘bricks and mortar’ of the sector.

Scottish hustings

The social enterprise fair followed a Scottish hustings, which took place last night.

Gavin Brown of Scottish Conservatives, former Edinburgh West MP for the Liberal Democrats John Barrett (standing in for Alistair Carmichael), Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, MSP for the SNP Shirley-Anne Somerville and Patrick Harvie, MSP for the Scottish Greens debated welfare reform, renewable energy, health, reoffending and social investment, with the main parties drawing on their manifestos.

The Tories used the opportunity to promote their support for social impact bonds (currently being piloted by the government) to encourage investment into the sector, Barrett talked about the need for commissioners to recognise value and not just price and Boyack said banks and the financial sector were crucial to social enterprise. Somerville said the SNP was dedicated to promoting social enterprise and Harvie said social care and energy were a huge opportunity for the sector, but added that he did not support NHS services moving out of the public sector.

The debate also highlighted differences in policy in Scotland and England, especially in initiatives using dormant bank accounts. Brown said the Tories’ Big Society Bank would filter some money north of the border, but that dormant bank accounts would be used differently in Scotland. He did however say he hoped Scotland would follow England eventually and set up a smiliar wholesale bank. A delegate also highlighted that Scotland did not have the right to request initiative, which helps frontline health staff set up social enterprises, or any Social Enterprise Investment Fund (SEIF), a £100m fund from the Department of Health.

More than 100 exhibitors are at today’s S2S, which is predicted to be attended by more than 700 delegates, up from 500 last year.

Antonia Swinson, CEO of the Scottish Coalition, said it proved social enterprise was surviving and thriving in the recession.