COMMUNITIES Minister Hazel Blears is to set up a crack Social Enterprise Unit to push for change in local authorities and across Whitehall.
She made the announcement during the successful Voice 08 Conference in Liverpool, organised by the Social Enterprise Coalition.
Ms Blears, MP for Salford, told the conference that she wanted the Unit to be a beacon encouraging the public sector to raise its sights and look at the provision of services by social enterprises.
She said that councils were already recognising that they could hand over disused buildings to become homes for new community enterprises.
Ms Blears also said that she wanted to forge stronger links between the private sector and community enterprises.
She told the conference, attended by hundreds of social enterprises: “I want to make sure that community enterprise runs right through my Department’s DNA.
“Not just a few officials responsible for the Third Sector, but a whole department thinking and questioning whether what we are doing is creating an environment in which you can thrive.
“Whether it’s regeneration, tackling homelessness, or the £1.5bn Working Neighbourhoods Fund, I want to make sure we’re taking into account the contribution you could make.
“And of course our responsibility for local government is crucial – encouraging them to work with you not just as potential providers of public services, but also as local employers, market makers and stakeholders in local communities.
“That’s why we are forming a Social Enterprise Unit, a team dedicated to putting social enterprise first, to showing the vast potential of working in partnership with you. I want the team to be a beacon across Whitehall and to town halls, encouraging everyone to raise their sights.”