Coalition response to the SE Badge proposal

Coalition response to the SE Badge proposal

After consultation with Board members, I am responding on behalf of the Coalition to Senscot’s proposal for a Social Enterprise Badge for Scotland. 

As you know, at our AGM last June, members expressed a preference for robust criteria for the Mark, but there was no consensus of support for its introduction and we therefore agreed that individual members who were interested could apply.

Our key comments on the SEB proposal are the following:

1.   We agree that the robust and sensible criteria you propose are far preferable to the Mark’s more relaxed approach and acknowledge that the SEM company is unlikely or unwilling to tighten the criteria in future. 

2.   The Coalition Board feels strongly that we need to take the time as a sector to discuss and debate the merits of this new proposal properly.  The Coalition Board has not yet had time to discuss the new proposal for a Scottish Badge although it agreed last June not to take a view on the Rise version of the Mark.  We would like to consider the take up and impact of the Mark so far in Scotland and hear from those social enterprises that have the Mark.

3.   Related to this is the question of the likely demand for a Scotland Badge, given the very low take up of the Mark to date. It may be that that there needs to be more time to see how the Mark develops and that the movement should not rush into having the Badge without proper widespread consultation.

4.   There is a real issue about us a sector seeking government resources for a Scotland only Badge in relation to other important priorities or support services for the sector in the light of competing priorities for the New Enterprising Third Sector Action Plan that the Third Sector Division will be consulting the sector about over the coming months.  It may be that resources should not be allocated to this in Scotland given that any social enterprise that wants a Mark can apply to the SEM company.

5.   Given the Coalition objective of raising the profile of social enterprise in Scotland, the Board feels the introduction of two values based Marks could cause reputational damage to social enterprise in Scotland, both at home as well as in the rest of the UK. We need to take into account that a number of Scottish based social enterprises work across the UK. The wrong decision could damage relations with UK partners who are working to a common purpose and see our own movement labelled as insular and parochial, instead of enterprising and outward looking, in the process  confusing the general public. Given our own recent Ipsos MORI poll shows 65% of the general public understood the term social enterprise in Scotland, compared to just 20% south of the border, it could be argued that collectively, we are already achieving success in raising  the profile of social enterprise without the Mark.

6.   If there is agreement to go ahead with a Scottish Badge we feel that it should be managed through a open and transparent tender process rather than developing a complex new organisation and seeking government grant support until it became self-sufficient in year three.  This would have the benefit of testing the market for innovative solutions to the funding and management of the proposal.

I trust that these initial comments are helpful and will put the issue on the agenda for a full discussion at the next Coalition Board meeting in May.  We would of course be happy to discuss the proposal with you further.

Best wishes,

Antonia Swinson
Chief Executive
Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition
Thorn House
5 Rose Street
Edinburgh EH2 2PR
0131 243 2650