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'Social enterprise' label can be adopted by anyone, says Cipfa

21 Sep 2011 News

Any type of organisation can call itself a social enterprise, a new report from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy has concluded.

Cipfa report

Any type of organisation can call itself a social enterprise, a new report from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy has concluded.

The 130-page report, Social enterprise and public service delivery, claims to be a “guide” for people working in or with social enterprises and those considering setting one up. It examines definitions of social enterprise, different organisational types, along with legal structures and regulatory frameworks.

On the third page, at the beginning of a chapter entitled ‘What is a social enterprise?’, the authors say:  “There is no universally agreed definition of ‘social enterprise’. Social enterprises in the UK are not required to adopt a particular legal structure and organisations are free to use or ignore the label ‘social enterprise’.

“However, a working definition of ‘social enterprise’ is needed in order to be able to identify what one it, how it differs from other enterprises, and what relevance these differences have to their application in public service delivery.”

The report defines some key characteristics of a social enterprise and provides a checklist for assessing an organisation’s fit with these characteristics.