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Be more than just Green: Major alliance of ‘social economy’ organisations formed to influence national policy

A group of organisations and businesses driven by social and environmental missions have joined together to “radically affect the way all political parties formulate social and economic policies in advance of the 2015 election.”

The Social Economy Alliance, spearheaded by social enterprise umbrella group Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) and social venture support network UnLtd, wants to see policies formed which show support for a social economy rather than corporate progress.

A spokesperson for SEUK said: “The last decade has seen massive progress in the social sector in the UK. Social enterprises and co-operatives are outperforming just-for-profit businesses, alternative banks have better returns on assets, lower volatility and higher growth, and a growing proportion of start-ups are socially driven.

“Something exciting is happening in the UK. But mainstream political parties are being slow to wake up to it. So the UK’s leading social economy organisations have launched The Social Economy Alliance.”

Celia Richardson, director of communications at SEUK, added: “We can’t allow the debate about what’s ‘good for the economy’ to be dominated by those who want to stimulate demand for luxury goods with heavy social and environmental costs, concentrate public wealth in the hands of shareholders, or pump money into a handful of banks. We have learned to our cost that what is bad for society is rarely, in the long run, good for the economy.”

The Alliance, formed at the end of June, has 22 members including The Social Investment Forum, The School for Social Entrepreneurs, Unity Trust Bank and Sandwell Community Caring Trust, and will exist for two years, based at SEUK’s London Bridge headquarters. It is backed up by pooled funds put into the pot by its members and is open to new organisations and businesses.

Richardson said the last few years had seen some “excellent developments with backing from all shades of the political spectrum” for measures put forward by social economy organisations. She highlighted the Big Society Capital bank, funded from dormant UK bank accounts to fund social enterprises and the Social Value Act, put in place to encourage public sector commissioners to place higher worth on social enterprises.

“The lobbying for these measures came from social economy organisations and there are plenty more ideas where they came from,” said Richardson.