The Big Questions

The Big Questions
New Lanark
17.11.11

Support from Scot Gov – what gaps still exist?

• Good level of support form Scottish Govt – never been better.
• Support in Scotland is more comprehensive than in England
• A lot of support for new orgs/ start ups and established SEs. Not as much for those trying make transition/step up.
• Intermediaries need to reflect better what is working and what is not working at a local level
• Intermediaries need to do more to connect practitioners to government
• There needs to be better link up between Govt departments
• Being categorised within third sector can be a disadvantage. SE needs to stand out, be more distinct
• Govt should consider secondments from the sector – to work within it.

Social Investment – supply seems to outweigh demand. Why?

• Is the money available the right kind of money?
• Need for mix of investment – a range of products i.e. funding/loans
• Whatever happened to the ‘patient capital’ model. Are there any examples?
• The greater costs associated with SEs (ie working in disadvantaged areas etc) should be reflected in interest rates – that often tend to be higher.
• SE needs to move to mix of funding but maybe not ready for full commercial funding scenarios.
• SE should not be ashamed of grant support – given the years of support/subsidies given to private sector and , more recently, the bailouts to the banks.

Procurement – how much of a difference will Community Benefit Clauses (CBCs) make?

• Can procurement give priority to local companies or is this discrimination?
• Introduction of CBCs welcome but needs to filter down to Local Authoity level
• Every public contract in Scotland should include CBC
• Currently the weighting of CBC in tenders is not high enough
• Mathematically impossible to win contracts with 10% weighting for community benefits clauses.
• Are enough SEs ready to take advantage of tendering opportunities?
• Majority of contracts on ‘public contracts Scotland’ beyond what is deliverable by individual SEs .
• Critical to work in partnership with one another or with bigger private sector partners – see MacAlpines and Millers catering contracts.
• SE should not expect any special privileges.
• Whole public contracting thing stifles entrepreneurship and there’s too much focus on it.
• Commissioning needs looked at and debate needs to be moved beyond procurement and into commissioning.
• Needs to be a change of commissioning culture.

Is a Voluntary Code of Practice necessary?

• Initially, there was a need for a broad church approach covering the range of SEs  – need to be smarter about what/how we do things as a sector. 
• Considerable concern about the ‘drift’ in England
• Scotland better placed than lots of other countries to define what a SE is.
• A Voluntary Code of Practice code of practice is needed but issues re implementation – regulation etc
• SE Mark became, in Scotland, pointless. Now lacks credibility
• Code of practice far more important and is about a way of practice.
• Could/should a quality mark be added to the code.
• Code of practice isn’t a quality mark.
• Needs to be a set in stone definition and possibly a mark/label for easier identification for the public.
• It should be an assertion of values and behaviours
• It will be marking out ‘our’ territory – but neither should it create a ‘club’ mentality – it would have to be arrived at by voluntary peer group consensus