Our vision is “everyone has the opportunity to be employed.” We want to ensure that our voice is heard, that our messages are understood and that their impact really does help the Social Firm sector to grow so it can offer more jobs to those that need them most. We do this by:
- raising awareness of the Social Firm model
- demonstrating its effectiveness
- influencing government policy in order to create more opportunities for Social Firms to start up and be successful.
We’ve done this by prioritising our key audiences and tailoring our approaches to them. Priority has been government departments because they have been reviewing policies that have a major impact on Social Firms, in particular:
- Department for Work and Pensions (policy responsibility for Welfare Reform; Specialist Employment Support for Disabled People; and contracting for employment support programmes);
- Department for Communities and Local Government (shift in focus from national to local funding streams; new targets on employment for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities);
- Ministry of Justice (National Offenders Management Service (ex offenders fall within the Social Firm definition of “severe disadvantage”. We need to increase our expertise in this area and to look for practical partnerships, particularly with the National Offender Management Service (ie Prisons and Probation));
- Department of Health ( policy responsibility for learning disability and mental health strategies and individualised budgets. These are all relevant to many Social Firms and their employees);
- Office of Civil Society (previously Office of the Third Sector - champions for the social enterprise sector within government and they have chosen us as a strategic partner, under the Social Entrepreneurship Partnership, to promote Social Firms’ interests).
We lobby them for:
- recognition that the Social Firms model is a cost effective way to enable people at most disadvantage in the labour market to work;
- a fund to provide specialist support for Social Firms start ups;
- removal of business rates for Social Firms;
- simplified benefit system.
Other policy work we do:
- Exploring ways to increase the evidence base of Social Firms’ effectiveness e.g. Social Return on Investment/social accounting etc;
- Exploring ways in which Social Firms can get more public sector contracts (tendering processes, Working Neighbourhood Fund, sub contracting for employment support);
- Developing template policies as a resource for our members e.g. policies for working with vulnerable adults.
Our achievements through lobbying
- Contract up to 2011 from OTS that has increased Social Firms UK’s capacity to develop initiatives for members benefits eg the Visit Programme .
- Greater understanding of the Social Firm model amongst national and local policy and decision makers – this is a slow and ongoing process but it is an essential prerequisite to more tangible outcomes.
- Greater awareness of the Social Firms sector so that its needs are more likely to be taken into account eg in subcontracting for employment support contracts, or access to other public funds/contracts.
- Greater recognition of Social Firms UK which opens doors to identifying opportunities to promote the interests of Social Firms and the Social Firm sector.
Help us We can make the most difference if we work together. Please take part in our surveys, consultations and conferences - let us know what you think and what you need. We can then focus our campaigns on what matters most to you. If you have any questions or comments, please contact our Policy Officer Di Cunliffe on 01737 231360 or email
Read the Social Firms UK manifesto (December 2009)
Read about our recent lobbying work: