Julie Bass, Chief Executive at Turning Point, reflects on what it means to be a social enterprise in 2022 and why it matters.
Although there are over 100,000 social enterprises in the UK, many people are unfamiliar with the term or what it entails in practise.
My name is Julie, and I am the Chief Executive of Turning Point, a social enterprise that offers services in the areas of substance abuse, mental health, learning disability and wider public health services. I’d like to use this opportunity, on Social Enterprise Day 2022, to discuss the work that social enterprises do and the challenges we face today.
What exactly do we mean by a social enterprise?
Fundamentally, social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social or environmental purpose. Like any other business, social enterprises seek to make a profit and succeed commercially. Social enterprises contribute around £60 billion to the UK economy and currently employ over two million people.
Yet their core operations (who they employ, and how they use profit) must align with efforts towards reducing inequality, improving social justice, or improving upon environmental sustainability.
Social enterprises work in every sector of the UK economy – from providing local community resources to waste management companies. Turning Point is one the many social enterprises within health and social care – a sector in which social enterprises account for a third of all community healthcare providers.
Social value is a core component of a social enterprise and has been increasingly present within the commissioning landscape for a number of years. Social value can highlight the role services play in creating economic, social and environmental value for communities. For providers it allows us to demonstrate the added value we bring to health and social care services. For us social value is a demonstration of our efforts in tackling health inequalities.
At Turning Point, social value is at the heart of what we do. Our social value strategy sets out our ambitions around promoting wellbeing, reducing worklessness, providing volunteering opportunities, apprenticeships, bursaries, supporting access to education, training and employment, investing in the local economy and supporting local community organisations.
In 2021/22 Turning Point delivered £27.7m of social value, including an investment of £3.38m within local community organisations.
The wellbeing of our staff and the people we support is a major priority for us. During 2021/22 we provided over £1.5m in social value through our college wellbeing programme.
Our work in embedding social value within the services we provide is not a completed task but a journey we are still embarking on; we will always strive to find new ways to benefit the communities we support and work alongside.
The pressures of the cost-of-living crisis are significant for many – including for social enterprises. Providers find themselves trapped between two financial pressures: on the one hand they want to pay their skilled workforce as much as they can, and on the other, they are limited in the resources they have to pay these additional uplifts given their financial dependence upon local government and the NHS. As soaring inflation rates leads to real term reductions in budgets – Turning Point, as well as many other providers – are faced with gaps between funding and provision costs to maintain high service quality.
With the Chancellor’s fiscal budget (to be released later today) – it is important for the Government to recognise the scale and importance of social enterprise within not just the healthcare sector but also beyond. This recognition needs to be partnered with adequate funding so social enterprises can continue to provide excellent, much needed services to some of the most vulnerable groups in the UK. We cannot let our most vulnerable fall through the cracks – particularly at a time, like the present cost-of-living crisis, where these cracks in the system become more pronounced.
Read the original blog post here.
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