Rob Wilson – 2016 Speech on Buy Social Corporate Challenge


Below is the text of the speech made by Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, at 11 Downing Street in London on 19 April 2016.

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to 11 Downing Street.

It’s my great pleasure to host you to launch the Buy Social Corporate Challenge. The Challenge is a world-first and I am delighted to see representatives from the UK’s leading businesses, financial services and social enterprises in the room.

We are all here today because we see the potential for business to be a powerful force for good. It is one of my key ambitions to see the growth of the UK’s dynamic social enterprise sector. Crucial to success will be opening up access to corporate markets, individual consumers and the public sector.

Many businesses recognise that their long-term survival is linked to the positive difference they make in the world. And more large companies are interested in how their spending power can be used to buy from social enterprises.

Customers are demanding it too: 1 in 3 British consumers will pay more for products and services that have a positive social and environmental impact.

Social enterprise can no longer be seen as a niche activity – 1 in 5 businesses in the UK now have a social mission at their core and the sector employs more than 2 million people.

The Buy Social Corporate Challenge is about connecting larger businesses to the ingenuity and innovation in the UK’s vibrant social enterprise sector. It isn’t asking businesses to spend more. But to spend in smarter ways that can improve their core business.

As you’ll hear today, the companies already signed up are taking a leading role by setting big targets for their own spending with social enterprises. Andy from Wates Group will speak about their commitment in a moment, and Johnson & Johnson have a target spend of £15m by 2020.

The Cabinet Office has worked with Social Enterprise UK to create this campaign and we will support SEUK to bring on board many more businesses to join the founding partners – to whom we are immensely grateful for their leadership.

The ambition is high and the Buy Social Corporate Challenge aims to see businesses spend £1 billion with social enterprises by 2020.

I encourage those of you representing large companies to find out how you can do more business with social enterprises by joining this Challenge; our support is there for you to make it happen.

And those of you from social enterprises, to show how you can deliver comparable or better services at fair costs to corporate clients – while making a difference to communities across the UK.

This campaign is a win-win for businesses and I am delighted that we are launching it here today.

Thank you and good luck.