Harnessing Social Enterprise for Local Public Services



Simmons R (2008) Harnessing Social Enterprise for Local Public Services. Public Policy and Administration, 23 (3), pp. 278-301.

The government’s public service reform policy emphasises the collaboration of local authorities with a network of other agencies in the locality, either through contracts or through partnership arrangements. Strong encouragement is currently being given to the involvement of ‘third sector’ organizations (including social enterprises) in such partnering arrangements. This environment has opened up new opportunities for social enterprises. However, as the DTI has asserted in relation to social enterprise, ‘rhetoric rather than a robust evidence base continues to inform many arguments for its growth and support’ (DTI, 2003a: 49). This paper examines one of the most widespread examples of social enterprise in the provision of public services: ‘new leisure trusts’. It asks whether the combination of entrepreneurial skills and social purpose in social enterprises such as new leisure trusts provides a useful model upon which public service partnerships could be based. Findings show that these social enterprises can work to create synergy through improved input/output ratios, commitment to meeting social objectives and wider stakeholder involvement. However, there are issues of incentivisation and relative autonomy that must be resolved within such partnerships, and more work to be done in some cases to build genuine social inclusion.

public management; social administration; public policy; Public administration Case studies; Local government Great Britain

Public Policy and Administration: Volume 23, Issue 3

Publication date31/07/2008

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Professor Richard Simmons

Professor Richard Simmons

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology