Scots Refuse to Back Social Enterprise Mark

Posted: 09 February 2010, in Press Release

Senscot has announced it will not be the Scottish partner of the Social Enterprise Mark because it fears the identifier is ‘blurring the boundary’ of the movement.

In a statement published on its website last week, the Scottish social enterprise network said it did not agree with the way the Mark was moving forward and the softening of its membership criteria, and declared itself ‘outside of the consensus’.

It said it would like to remain ‘engaged’ with the Mark if the membership criteria could be flexible for the UK’s different countries.

Senscot has been in negotiation with the Mark’s steering group for more than a year about becoming a partner to promote the Mark to social enterprises in Scotland.

Three main criteria were given for the refusal of the offer – the practicalities of a distinctly Scottish process, the specific criteria of eligibility for the Mark and the structure and business plan of the Mark’s new company, which is a community interest company.

The statement added that Senscot held off announcing its feelings publicly so as not to ‘dampen’ the Mark’s official launch at Voice10 in Cardiff last week.

‘The SEM [Social Enterprise Mark] company, created specifically to own and manage the Mark, has adopted a business plan which is predicated on a very high volume of take up – 2,000 within the first 12 months. This “high impact” strategy has increasingly led to a “broad church” approach, which Senscot fears may blur the boundaries between social enterprise and other sectors,’ Senscot said.

The statement continued that it was concerned about Whitehall influence and the ‘accommodation’ of local authority subsidiaries such as leisure trusts.

It also said it did not agree with the┬áchange in the amount of dividends payable from 35 per cent to 50 per cent, saying ‘it didn’t feel right’, and that it did not support a ‘high impact, quick volume brand’.

‘Senscot believes that the Scottish social enterprise community would not go down that route, but rather choose to be regulated by tighter criteria, even at the expense of slower volume, so as to embed a quite distinct culture and set of values,’ Senscot said.

‘One scenario which would enable Senscot to remain engaged with the SEM would be if London agreed that separate countries can vary criteria according to cultural differences.’

Senscot will be putting this proposal to the Mark’s company directors and told its members it would ‘take a view on where to go next’ based on their decision.