Family champion should represent social enterprise
A pressure group has called for the next so-called ‘family tsar’ to be drawn from the social enterprise sector following last week’s resignation of A4e boss Emma Harrison.
Social Enterprise UK, the national body representing social enterprise businesses, also questioned the appointment of Ms Harrison’s former company to handle the government’s welfare-to-work contracts.
‘Following Harrison’s resignation, the next step must be for the government to honestly ask itself whether it’s a good use of public money to keep A4e on the payroll,’ said Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK. ‘The company has a poor track record of getting people back into work and is draining taxpayers’ money out of the economy.
‘The behaviour of big contractors who are deriving large profits from public sector contracts is a critically important issue. Taxpayers are rightly questioning exactly where their money is going and this issue is not going to disappear.’
The body suggested three names as possible replacements for Ms Harrison. They are: Karen Lowthorp from environmental social enterprise Hill Holt Wood; Fay Selvan, chief executive of The Big Life Group, which produces The Big Issue magazine in the north of England; and Claire Dove for women’s support enterprise Blackbrurne House.
Mr Holbrook added: ‘Public sector contracts can be awarded to good businesses yet social enterprises have been largely left out of the Work Programme despite them having a strong track record and being driven by a social mission. Profits or surpluses are reinvested and there’s no conflict of interest, no drive to maximise shareholder profit.
‘The rise of social enterprise in the UK is a huge opportunity, and the mainstream business community is often supportive and keen to collaborate. There’s room in the economy for us all.’
Ms Harrison quit her government role last week amid a police investigation into irregularities at A4e. Part of her remit had been to turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in England.