Social Entrepreneurship – news from Big Society Capital

I have just returned from a reception hosted by Big Society Capital and the City of London Corporation which was aimed at those banks and financial institutions who will be important if the social investment approach is to grow and be successful. The event was absolutely packed and there is clearly a lot of interest in the area. Some new things came out.

Firstly, the size of the ‘market’ so far. About £165m of investment was made in social enterprises last year and this figure is forecast to rise to £ 300m this year. The longer term forecast is that it will increase further to £1billion by 2016 – so a material shift in resources and a change in the environment that will focus ever more on outcomes.

Secondly, there was a brief discussion on the motivation for commissioners to engage. Of interest here was the mention of an ‘Academy for Commissioners’ which will be established by the Government. It was the first I have heard of this but seems a welcome recognition of the expertise that is needed in complex commissioning – particularly if contracts are to be well structured and outcomes properly measured. Given the pace of change in our sector at the moment, this injection of expertise cannot come a moment too soon.

Finally, mention was also made of setting up a central government ‘outcomes fund’ that would be used to contribute to funding Payment by Results models where part of the financial gain accrues to central rather than local government. Again, this is surely helpful in the area where we all work.

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