Ruth Mitchell

Boost for social enterprise trailblazers

Pioneering social enterprise schemes are to receive financial support to explore innovative ways of providing health and social care.

The Department of Health has announced an investment of £1m towards social enterprise this year, in addition to a further government commitment in April 2007. Earlier this year the DH created a Social Enterprise Unit to encourage innovation and entrepreneurialism in health and social care.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: “Social enterprises make a significant contribution to the economy of the UK. But equally importantly, they really transform the way services are delivered, empowering people to make a difference to their communities. “We need to offer patients and service users greater choice and personalised care.”

The DH is seeking to identify social enterprises that are interested in taking part in its pathfinder programme, leading the way in delivering innovative services. Pathfinders will be eligible to apply for financial support to help with set up costs and will have access to wider support such as training and legal or business advice. The DH says that the knowledge gained from pathfinders will be shared across the health and social care sector.

Sue White, Head of the Department of Health Social Enterprise Unit said: “We want to work with existing and emerging social enterprise organisations and commissioners to create and support a vibrant social enterprise sector in health and social care. We have received many queries and contacts from people who are interested in social enterprise - this is tremendously encouraging.”

For more information on the pathfinder scheme, visit the Department of Health website -

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