Department of Health and Social Care
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Health and Care Workers to set up new social enterprises

Health and Care Workers to set up new social enterprises

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 20 November 2008

Funding announced for innovative social enterprise projects

Marking Social Enterprise Day, Care Service Ministers Phil Hope today announced that six projects will share £450,000 to establish new social enterprises which will help the elderly, the disabled and the homeless, and nurses will get more help to set up services that will help their patients.

The six projects form part of the Government's 'Innovation for Life' Challenge Fund - a fund set up to promote commissioning of innovative health and social care services from social enterprises.

The projects to receive funding are:

* Gateshead Council (£61,875) to develop a new initiative which will train and enable older and disabled people to offer their skills and knowledge to other people who need independent assistance.

* Bristol City Council (£40,000) will bring together partners from the voluntary, community, social enterprise and public sectors to tackle local health and well-being challenges.

* NHS West Midlands (£100,000) will set up schemes for respite care for disabled young people and their families and improved engagement with groups such as the homeless.

* Birmingham City Council (£63,750) to encourage the development of a framework to support the start-up of local social enterprises.

* Croydon PCT and Croydon Council (£85,000) will set up a Partnership for Older People's (POP) Village, which will help older people in the borough.

* Kent County Council (£100,000) will engage with and support PCT commissioning of social enterprises.

A how-to guide, called 'Social Enterprise - Making a Difference' which will help community health and social care staff set up social enterprises to deliver new and improved services, was also launched today.

The "Right to Request" to set up social enterprises is a commitment within the Next Stage Review of the NHS published in July 2008. It allows primary and community care staff to establish independent social enterprises, providing an opportunity for them to deliver their services in new ways. This right will help staff drive up the quality of care by empowering them to directly address local needs and ultimately improve the health and well-being of the people they serve.

Phil Hope said:

"Social enterprise can support the development of vibrant services that improve patient care. For this to happen, PCTs and councils need to work together to encourage social enterprise. This funding supports innovation in organisations that are committed to improvement.

"This guide empowers frontline staff to directly help the patients and communities they serve. Social enterprises can also give greater freedom to staff to use their professional skills to transform services. Healthcare professionals have a long history of providing innovative services in a variety of settings so they are in an excellent position to take advantage of this 'right to request'".

Commenting on the guide, Jonathan Bland, Chief Executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition said:

"Setting up a social enterprise gives NHS staff the ability to respond to the needs of people and communities in innovative, targeted ways and it has the potential to generate enormous positive change in health care across England. But it is essential that the staff who choose to set up social enterprises are given proper and comprehensive support along the way, and this publication is an excellent first step to introducing them to what opportunities and challenges lie ahead."


Social enterprises are dynamic businesses with social and environmental aims. Well known examples include The Big Issue, Cafe Direct and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, but there are many other social enterprises operating in a wide range of industries.

More information about the Department of Health's social enterprise programme can be found at:

Right to Request How-To Guide

Under the 'Right to Request' commitment in the Next Stage Review, PCT boards will be obliged to consider social enterprise requests from staff and, if approved, support its development.

Co-produced with the Social Enterprise Coalition, the guide 'Social Enterprise - Making a Difference' provides step-by-step information to Primary Care Trust (PCT) staff on how to approach the creation of a social enterprise.

The 'How To' guide for staff considering a right to request to set up a social enterprise can be found at and It was developed in conjunction with the Social Enterprise Coalition.

A series of regional staff conferences and workshops on social enterprise and the 'Right to Request' are planned for early 2009.

'Innovation for Life' Challenge Fund

The 'Innovation for Life' Challenge Fund was announced in May 2008 as part of the Social Enterprise Investment Fund, worth a total of £100million. It is intended to stimulate and encourage the development of a vibrant social enterprise sector in the delivery of health and social care services. More information about the fund can be found at:

About the Social Enterprise Coalition

The Social Enterprise Coalition is the UK's national body for social enterprise. Acting as the voice for the sector, it supports and represents the work of its members, influences national policy and promotes best practice.


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