Happy new year everyone, a new improved decade lays ahead!

If you thought that the last 10 years were a bit of a rollercoaster, then tighten your belts as the 2020’s look like they could be even more fun than what’s gone before. If the preceding decade was the Corkscrew, if feels as if in the 2020’s we’re now riding the Oblivion

I welcome the news that austerity is over and it certainly seems as if the government’s purse is now open and new spending commitments will soon start flowing. There is an inevitability that this cash, initially at least, will be used to triage the most ugly and visible societal wounds rather than tackle the historic and structural origins that caused them. That means we can expect to welcome more police, teachers, nurses, immigration officers and even new homes (even if not in the volumes promised) but we are unlikely to see any real re-imagining of the economic structure that got us here in the first place.

But that’s politics folks and despite the cynical nature of modern politics, we must remain hopeful and be ready and willing to step up and do what we can, whatever the circumstances we may find ourselves in.   

This will prove to be a defining decade for the UK and the world. We  will determine whether we can work collectively and in partnership to resolve the multi-faceted challenges we face, or whether we will simply compete among ourselves, between communities and nations, in an attempt to distance ourselves from and insulate ourselves against the worst aspects of the road that got us here. This applies to housing, traffic congestion and income inequality, just as much as it does to water and food scarcity and to mental wellbeing, pollution or climate chaos.

These periods of political, economic and social uncertainty do however create rare opportunities to disrupt, to challenge, to innovate and to pioneer new approaches that previously would have seemed preposterous, or simply dismissed out of hand as too risky.

We must believe that there is an opportunity with the new Government to drive real change. There is no doubt that business as usual isn’t working and many within government realise this. We know that the new administration (or indeed anyone else) have neither the solutions nor all the levers to rapidly transition our economy in the way that you and I know is required. We are already starting discussions with Downing Street on how social enterprise can be utilised as a primary tool to breathe new economic opportunity into the lives of communities that barely breathe at all. But to quote Elvis, ‘a little less conversation, a little more action baby’ would be nice.

Any new government has a short-ish honeymoon when it considers what the hell it wants to do with the rest of its life. We are working hard to ensure that your impact and your potential to do more is recognised. We’re being asked what more the sector needs to do over and beyond what  it currently does, and whilst we think we have some hunches about what you might prioritise, over the next few weeks we will be consulting with you all to understand what interventions could further catalyse your business success over the coming decade and what SEUK’s priorities should be. Please contribute and help shape our own organisational priorities for the years ahead.

This consultation will take place in parallel to the Lord Adebowale Commission on Social Investment which we announced in December. Both pieces of work are likely to have far reaching impacts for the sector. Your voice, your contribution, your support, is as ever, fundamental to us achieving our goals.

If our country is to conclude this new decade in a more positive light than we finished the last, then it’s going to require everyone of us to park our cynicism, roll up our sleeves and lead the work that needs to be done. If not us, then who?

Peter