Issue 7: Nov 2013

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES - A LONG TERM VIEW OF HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE

By Duncan Osler, Partner, MacRoberts LLP and Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland

The sixth Social Enterprise World Forum took place at the start of October and I was privileged to participate.  The Scottish and UK delegation was one of the largest and included the Chair of the steering group who organised the Forum.  Travelling with social entrepreneurs from Vancouver to Calgary enabled us to share experiences and learn about Canadian social enterprise. 

Social Enterprise is a business model and so like any other business, a social enterprise trades to make profit.  The difference is that any profit or surplus which Social Enterprise generates is locked on to a stated mission or community purpose, rather than to shareholder return in corporate terms.  Social Enterprise offers sustained economic growth combined with a community centred set of benefits. 

The difference is that any profit or surplus which Social Enterprise generates is locked on to a stated mission or community purpose, rather than to shareholder return in corporate terms.

Some 1,000 delegates at the World Forum heard about many social enterprise experiences, many focusing as you would expect on areas of social deprivation in Canada's urban and rural communities.  Many of the issues and solutions were recognisable to delegates from across the globe. 

Hosted in Canada, part of the World Forum focused on Social Enterprise for Canada's First Nations, whose communities suffered untold social harm after the arrival of European settlers.  The fundamental disruption to First Nation ways of life was driven in part by the severing of their unique connections or relationship with their territories, with some striking thoughts emerging about how our relationship with the planet and how we use its resources and preserve them for future generations. 

We learned how some First Nations bands (we are familiar with the term 'tribe') are using Social Enterprise as a means of re-establishing sustainable communities.  On our social enterprise journey to Calgary we met one such Social Enterprise.  In recent years the Nk'Mip has become recognised as one of the most successful First Nations bands in the Okanagan Nation.  We heard how their Social Enterprise works first and foremost to ensure that all members of their Band are employed, supported and educated through the communities' resort hotel, winery and other businesses.  Indeed, their Social Enterprise employs more than the total number of band members and contributes in that way to the wider community.  Their success contrasts starkly with the continuing social challenges for many, if not the majority, of Canada's First Nations communities.
 
Turning to health and social care and our approach to planning at the community level.  For many of us in the Scottish/UK delegation the single most extraordinary realisation was a matter of time.  The First Nations social enterprise is considering land purchase with a view to the needs of the sixth or seventh generation down the line - food for thought for Scottish and Western policy makers.

...the single most extraordinary realisation was a matter of time. The First Nations social enterprise is considering land purchase with a view to the needs of the sixth or seventh generation down the line...

For the best of democratic reasons, public policy focuses on the short to medium term.  We have a four year electoral cycle, enabling a close connection with and accountability to the public.  We do engage in longer term policy planning, such as in an integrated transport context and NHS healthcare strategies are similarly long-term in nature. 

But if we were to consider community need for even three generations or a single lifetime, as these Canadian Social Enterprises do, we may create new opportunities.  Without outsourcing or privatisation, a First Nations Social Enterprise will build and operate medical facilities and retirement homes for those in its community and actively employ younger members of the Band at those facilities, so reconnecting generations in a way that fosters community values and meets needs directly and cost-effectively.  It brings communities together and is an example of the integrated social benefit that Social Enterprise can bring.  And any surplus generated by the Social Enterprise is available for wider community investments.

Social Enterprise is a business model.  In public policy terms it does not seek to replace central or local government but to work with the public sector. Social Enterprises trade to generate profit and profit can be taxed to add to public funds.  Social Enterprise activity generates social returns in itself.  Social Enterprise offers the potential for long term sustainable community business.  The good news is that there are many successful Social Enterprises in Scotland, so much so that Scotland is seen as a global leader in Social Enterprise, partly through the strong and coherent support of the Scottish Government.  The Ernst & Young Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year is a social entrepreneur – James Dunbar of New Start Highland whose businesses generate social capital and benefits for communities in the Highlands.
 

The good news is that there are many successful Social Enterprises in Scotland, so much so that Scotland is seen as a global leader in Social Enterprise, partly through the strong and coherent support of the Scottish Government

Social Enterprise is an exciting and growing business phenomenon creating greater social impact over time.  Social Enterprises in rural areas operate very differently to those in urban areas where circumstances, and their mission, dictate.  By working with other providers of community support, Social Enterprise has the potential over time to strengthen communities and make them more sustainable.  How will our seventh generation look back on the hard policy choices we make now?
 
Duncan Osler is a Partner in MacRoberts LLP and Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland.

By Duncan Osler, Partner, MacRoberts LLP and Chair of Social Enterprise Scotland

Issue 7: Nov 2013

Issue 7: Nov 2013

HEALTH, WELL BEING AND AGEING: SCOTLAND 2020

Re-energising the move towards integrated care

Scotland's move to integrated care can learn from elsewhere by focussing on two key differentiators between successful partnerships and those paying lip service to integrated working: Shared outcomes and common language is one, the other is demonstrating mutual investments and mutual benefits.

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