I did a double act with Jeremy Vine last night. He’s extraordinarily tall and very funny. He’s also interested in social enterprise, but then aren’t we all? I was announcing the social enterprise category of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010, at their very lovely awards ceremony at the Park Plaza. We had seven finalists in the top tier from social enterprise, 2010 being our strongest showing by far, including the fantastic Dai Powell from HCT Group. The winning finalists were our own SEL Co-Chair, Sophi Tranchell of Divine Chocolate, Duncan Goose from Global Ethics and Debbie Scott from Tomorrow’s People Trust Limited. As it was a black tie occasion I had to bring out my posh frock and do battle with the legendary backless bra. The things we girls have to do to look the part!
Fellow judges Simon Calver CEO of LoveFilm International and Vin Murria CEO of Advanced Computer Software Plc were also really interested in social enterprise, and I look forward to following up on those conversations. I also had a good chat with Debbie Scott. We both ranted on about schools and the need for independent providers and I got on to one of my pet peeves brought on by sending my 10 year old off to the Isle of Wight for 5 days that very morning, which is the cost and unnecessary disruption of ever more ambitious school trips. 2 years ago we had to fork out over £1000 for three children to go on school trips whilst still at primary school. Why? I have no idea. I certainly was not going on 5 day residential trips with my school at 10 and I can't see the necessity of it. Of course the kids have fun but that is a lot of money and frankly folk can't afford it. Last year when Sam went to the Dordogne with his primary school, aged 11, it cost us £550! Madness.
Today the Cabinet Office have released their Structural Reform Plan. I was pleased to see they are supporting the creation of mutuals, co-operatives and social enterprises to have a greater involvement in public services. I would argue that all those models sit within the social enterprise camp and I agree that what we need to do is help people build structures that can deliver quality public services that inspire it’s consumers and workforce. I also see they are firming up on plans to reduce or cut quangos. I am crossing everything in the hope that we will not lose vital support through this. There is a big job to do and we will need a little help from our friends to do it.