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9 out of 10 people want outsourced public services delivered by social enterprises

Date: 08.07.19 |Categories: Featured, Markets

New research conducted by YouGov shows people trust social enterprises more than private enterprises to deliver outsourced public services and believe they do so with more expertise, efficiency and value for money.

The findings demonstrate the public wants a better model to deliver services, and would prefer local authorities to contract with purpose-driven organisations such as social enterprises than private enterprises.

Almost 9 out of 10 people who expressed a preference want outsourced services delivered by social enterprises, not private enterprises.

Social enterprises are businesses with primarily social objectives (such as a child care organisation redistributing profits from nurseries into care for vulnerable children). They re-invest their profits to support their social objectives, into communities and to develop their businesses.

Worth £60bn to the economy and employing over 2 million people, many mature social enterprises already operate at scale, delivering public contracts with a “profit for a purpose” model.

But the full potential the of UK’s 100,000+ social enterprises to deliver public services well has not been realised, despite a  clear preference from the public for a values-driven “public service delivery 2.0” model, providing better quality and value than private enterprises.

New YouGov research demonstrates the demand from the public for local authorities to outsource services to social enterprises.

YouGov asked a representative sample of 2062 adults about their attitudes towards public service delivery on behalf of E3M, a social enterprise initiative.

Most (84%) of the public are aware public bodies such as local councils and the NHS sub-contract some services (for example, youth services, sports, leisure and events, rubbish collection, park maintenance and cleaning) to other businesses.

Asked to choose between social enterprises or private enterprises delivering public services, 9 out of 10 people who expressed a preference chose social enterprises.

The research also found social enterprises are trusted to provide local public services by more than twice as many of the public than private enterprises.

Other questions revealed:

  • Over twice as many (42%) of the public agree social enterprises “can provide local authorities with good value for money,” compared with just 19% who believe private enterprises can.
  • More respondents – 37% – agree social enterprises have the expertise and experience to provide local public services. Only 26% say private enterprises have this expertise and experience.
  • And over half (51%) of the public agree it is a risk to sub-contract local public services to private enterprises, whereas just a quarter (24%) say sub-contracting to social enterprises is risky.

Social enterprises such as Catch22, HCT Group and many others already have a successful track record of delivering public services.

But as local authorities seek to deliver services under increasing budgetary pressure, commissioning with more requirement for positive social impact and awarding more contracts to social enterprises would offer better quality, better value and better outcomes for society – exactly what the public wants – according to E3M, which commissioned the research.

Jonathan Bland, Managing Director of Social Business International which manages the E3M initiative, said:

“Local authorities need to take this YouGov research seriously. The mood has changed: the public wants a different model of outsourcing that they trust, one which uses profits to benefit society rather than building shareholder value.”

Lord Victor Adebowale CBE, Chair of Social Enterprise UK, said:

“This research confirms what Social Enterprise UK has found through our own work: the public wants value for money and value for people. The public knows social enterprise is the future of business and the future for providing public services.”

The research was conducted online by YouGov between 26 and 29 April 2019, to a sample of GB adults aged 18+.

What next?

  • E3M and partners are now working with CIPFA, The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to research and publish a joint report into public sector attitudes towards social enterprises.
  • For media enquiries concerning this research please contact Jamie Veitch, Senior Associate, Social Business International, on 07904 272 200 or via email.