Senscot Bulletin: 12.09.14

Dear members and friends,

 This is my final column BV (before the vote) – in case the tectonic plates are about to shift – I’d like to place a couple of thoughts on the record.  Firstly to acknowledge how invigorating – even thrilling – it is to be a Scot at this time; part of a great awakening – the sense that we are making history.  Last weekend the London establishment realised that Scotland might be minded to walk away from Westminster rule; the cat is amongst the pigeons.
 The roots of the present independence surge lie squarely with New Labour.  When Blair and Brown embraced Thatcherism – and destroyed the Labour Party – that was the bitterest public betrayal of my lifetime – still deeply felt in Scotland.  By favouring a corrupt City – over the interests of working people – New Labour was party to shameful levels of inequality.  The leftist political turf they abandoned – gave the independence movement its greatest opportunity; the SNP seized and claimed social democracy as its own; the electorate responded by giving them a mandate to govern Scotland – and may now extend this to independence.
 I feel very proud to be a Scot in these times – the intelligence, the common decency, the courage – to reject a broken political system which operates on behalf of a tiny minority.  One senses that the independence issue has reached a point of no return – and that we shall soon begin a new chapter in our own story – in an economic system which is of use to everyone.  Next bulletin will be AV (after the vote).  Must keep the heid. 

In 2002, Senscot was one of the founders of UnLtd – created to manage a £100m endowment called the Millennium Award’s Trust (MAT); the Trust makes awards to start up social entrepreneurs – and to administer the awards in Scotland, a separate company was created – trading as Scotland UnLtd – with two members – Senscot and CAN. We link to a joint press release announcing that, earlier this year, the members of Scotland UnLtd decided to end its relationship with UnLtd – as of 31st March 2014 – and no longer provide a conduit for the disbursement of their awards in Scotland. See   Our statement explains that, over recent years, UnLtd has developed into one of the UK’s leading advocates against regulation of social enterprise; CAN and Senscot – who campaign in the opposite direction – no longer wish to be associated with UnLtd’s direction of travel. Rodney Stares – Senscot’s nominee on the UnLtd Board – shares his impressions of events. See,

In the perception of moneylenders (who are mega-lobbyists) – an ‘asset-locked’ enterprise is problematic – they don’t ‘get’ social mission; our sector remains under pressure to embrace private profit enterprises – more likely to use commercial loans (hence the behaviour of UnLtd – see above). The USA, in particular, has the attitude that unless you’re getting a personal ‘slice of the action’ – you’re not a serious social entrepreneur. What I find so irritating about this attitude – is the implication that we only give our best in pursuit of private interest. Even a cursory scan of history contradicts this; thankfully we’re more complex than that. This piece illustrates, see,

The SE Code Steering Group (CSG) is an informal collection of volunteers – who over recent years have stuck their heads up to protect the meaning of social enterprise in Scotland; trying to keep it distinct from public and private sector activity. We don’t meet often – we don’t always agree – but there is good debate – and sincere commitment to tease out what is best for our sector. The CSG reconvenes for periodic refreshment of the Code – and we would be interested to hear from anyone out there with a point to make. See Code Criteria,

NOTICES: We can’t flag all notices here, but more jobs, events and tenders available on our website. See  this week:
JOBS: McSence Group, Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust, Trellis, Leonard Cheshire Disability Scotland, The Salvation Army, EUSA, Quarriers, Victim Support Scotland, RAMH
EVENTS: Social in the Square, 13 Sept; FREE: Finance for Practitioners – AYR, 17 Sep; Drama Queens, 24 Sep; Write a Letter, Make a Difference!, 25 Sep; In Conversation with Shazia Hobbs, 25 Sep;
TENDERS: Feasibility Study for Great Bernera Community Development Trust, Stornoway to Ness Cycle/Walking Route Feasibility Study and Design – Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Community Growing Project – Landscaping Works – Hillhead HA 2000. See more,

The SENs Weekly Update; Kim writes: We have a first draft of this year’s SE Conference and Ceilidh Programme. Things will change/evolve between now and November – but it gives a flavour of the ideas we have in mind. See,  Moving to the Westerwood last year allows us to accommodate more folk overnight than we have in the past – we already have 70 delegates signed up. Priority, as always, will be given to SEN members. To request a booking form, contact . For more SENs News, see

Regular readers of this bulletin will be aware of our opposition to social impact bonds (SIBs) – where speculators are encouraged to gamble on the outcomes of social interventions. A reader sends this example from Birmingham – where profit will be related to the contractor getting more people to die at home rather than in hospital. I find it not only offensive but scary that speculators have a financial incentive in influencing where people die. See,

Over 400 readers visited George Monbiot’s piece about the Referendum in last week’s bulletin; that’s a lot for us. This is another stonking piece from him in which he talks about the transformational power of hope.
See,  At a time which requires us all to remain calm, Monbiot’s language is sometimes too intemperate; this week I prefer the conciliatory tone of Madeline Bunting. She was at the recent ‘Festival of Ideas’ at Govan Baths – makes some telling observations. See,

HM Treasury is carrying out a consultancy on ‘enlarging’ the current Social Investment Tax Relief scheme – deadline is 18th Sept 2014. Whilst maybe not applicable to the vast majority of social enterprises, Senscot, in our work with the Scottish Community Re-Investment Trust (SCRT), is putting in a short response. For those who have an interest in this arena, here is a short overview of the current scheme – the new proposals – and some initial observations. See,

On weekends I wake up to Sunday Morning With… the 7-8am interview where people discuss their values. This week was John Lanchester who has written a book called ‘How To Speak Money’ – a ‘bluffer’s guide’ – for bemused folk like me. Lanchester believes that ‘robber barons’ get away with it because of the huge gap between those who understand money – and the rest: separated by a private esoteric language. This is a Guardian review of the book. See,

REMINDER: Edinburgh SEN will be hosting Scotland’s first SE Festival – ‘Social in the Square’ in St. Andrews Sq Garden today and tomorrow – 12th/13th Sept. If you are in or around Edinburgh – get along if you can. For more, see

This week’s bulletin profiles a new social enterprise –  showcased at last week’s CEiS SE Policy and Practice Conference – that will be selling its product worldwide with funds being channelled back to the Grassmarket Community Project (GCP) in Edinburgh. Greyfriars Tartan is a new enterprise – supported by the Enterprise Ready Fund. Over the next year, members of the Grassmarket Community Project will work with a textiles specialist (including the New York School of Fashion) to create an exclusive range of Greyfriars tartan products to sell both in the Grassmarket Centre and online. For more, see

This is a quote from Jimmy Reid’s legendary rectoral speech at Glasgow University in 1972.

“It requires a social and cultural, or if you wish, a spiritual transformation of our country. A necessary part of this must be the restructuring of the institutions of government and, where necessary, the evolution of additional structures so as to involve people in the decision-making processes of our society. To unleash the latent potential of our people requires that we give them responsibility. The untapped resources of the North Sea are nothing compared to the untapped resources of our people. I am convinced that the great mass of our people go through life without even a glimmer of what they could have contributed to their fellow human beings. This is a personal tragedy. It’s a social crime. The flowering of each individual’s personality and talents is the pre-condition for everyone’s development.”  See,

That’s all for this week.
Best wishes,


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Senscot is a Company, registered in Scotland. Company Reg No. 278156: Scottish Charity No. SC 029210