Social Enterprise – A Question Of Principles & Values?

On the day that the Council launched its Social Enterprise and wound up its Homecare Service (risking 64 staff jobs), it announced plans to hire ‘top branding expert’ to design the new Social Enterprise logo – a clear example of mistaken Tory priorities.

When a Social Enterprise is crafted together it has to start off as it means to go on, it must demonstrate its ethics and principles and values. These are the historical building blocks that will identify its culture and its reputation as well as the affection that people will hold it, in their hearts. A good example is the Hospice Movement another extreme example is the Railtrack debacle.

What do we want in Swindon from our new Social Enterprise:  Hospice values and principles or a Railtrack values and principles? I know these are two extremes to use to demonstrate the values and principles of organisations that have a responsibilty to look after the public that use their services. It is about accountability and public accountability  of those who run it and their values and principles.

What has this to do with Swindon? In Swindon on Thursday night we saw the Conservative run Council demolish its “in house” home care service. There has been much made of the arguments about the rights and wrongs of this decision.  However the new Social Enterprise will get off the ground with the after-taste of this as over 10,500 people signed a petition against the Conservative Council making this decision.

Now that the Social Enterprise is starting out it has seen 64 home care staff being excluded from this joint venture between the Council and PCT it is scandalous that they have not been TUPEd as it has been classed as a “Fragmented TUPE”. I always believe a good caring employer would have pulled all the stops out to ensure that its staff were TUPEd. This has not happened in this case and some home care staff will face redundancy.

However what has surprised me was that on the day this decision was being made the Social Enterprise announced that a “Top branding Expert” was being used to work on a logo for the Social Enterprise. How much this is going to cost tax payers will not be forgotten easily and every time that logo is shown, for some it will remind them that behind it will be a story of how a home care service was decapitated for  political expediency.

There must be some associated costs to pay for a “Top branding Expert” at the same time people are facing unemployment, and it will be a hard one to swallow, for some 10,500 people in Swindon. I believe using a Top branding Expert and not using Local talent such as students or running a competition is an outrageous example of Tory waste and mismanagement of tax payers money.

Cllr Steve Wakefield, Toothill