Community-based day activities and supports for people with learning disabilities
Key task 7 - Social firms
A Social Firm is one type of social enterprise. Other types of social enterprise include development trusts, cooperatives, credit unions and community businesses. A social enterprise is a business that trades for a social purpose.
A Social Firm is a business set up specifically to create employment for disabled people. There are 3 core values that Social Firms will subscribe to within their businesses, orientated around Enterprise, Employment and Empowerment:
Enterprise - Social Firms are businesses that combine a market orientation and a social mission ('businesses that support’ rather than 'projects that trade’):
- At least 50% of the firm’s turnover is earned through sales of goods and/or services.
- The firm has an appropriate legal status. It must not be governed or driven by individual profit (except for worker cooperatives). Remote shareholders must not extract unreasonable profit.
- The firm is trading and follows business processes, such as having a business plan in place.
- The firm has a constitution or written guiding principles that reflect its employment objective re disabled people.
- The firm has a management structure that supports trading as the firm’s primary purpose.
Employment - Social Firms are supportive workplaces where the working environment is one that provides all employees with support, opportunity and meaningful work:
- More than 25% of employees are disabled people.
- All employees have a contract of employment and market wage at or above national minimum wage.
- An equal approach is taken to the type of employment contracts used (permanent, fixed term, temporary) between disabled and non-disabled staff.
- The firm operates processes to engage employees in their own and the organisation’s development.
- The firm has procedures and policies in place in respect of Equal Opportunities and Health and Safety.
- The firm is compliant with relevant employers legislation e.g. Disability Discrimination Act and National Minimum Wage.
- All employees have the opportunity to progress either within the Social Firm or into alternative employment as appropriate.
- The firm is acknowledged as a good employer by employees and stakeholders.
- The firm is acknowledged as a good employer through an external accreditation process.
Empowerment - Social Firms are committed to the social and economic integration of disabled people through employment. A key means to this end is economic empowerment through the payment of market wages to all employees:
- Reasonable adjustments are made for employees relevant to their needs.
- Staff development is a priority for the firm to maximise each employee’s ability and potential.
- There are processes in place for managing stress. Staff are encouraged to have control over their working environment.
- The firm demonstrates a commitment to maintaining staff confidentiality. There is a procedure in place that demonstrates when staff have agreed what information can be shared.
- Volunteers have agreements that reflect good practice in volunteering.
- The firm provides Disability Equality and Awareness training to all staff as appropriate (e.g. mental health awareness).
- The firm has an added emphasis on training for disabled staff. Training reinforces and builds on learning and takes account of developing social skills as appropriate.
- The firm’s organisational structure is enabling and encourages staff to participate in business decisions as appropriate.
- Trainees, work experience candidates and volunteers have different programmes and responsibilities to those of employees. Training should be time-limited and should lead to an award once competences are achieved.
From: Social Firms UK website:
Business plan outline
Broadly the following subject areas will have to be covered:
1 Introduction or synopsis (some would say Executive Summary). This tells the reader what the rest of the document will explain.
2 The product or service. What it is, why it is so wonderful.
3 The market Who will buy it. What they are like. Where they are. How many of them there are. Why the product will be of benefit to them. Why it is better than any alternative they might buy.
4 The marketing plan. How the benefits of the product will be explained to, and made irresistible to 3.
5 The organisation of production . delivery of service. What needs to be done to create 2 and get it to 3, reliably and at minimum internal cost. What inputs are required, where they will come from, how supply continuity and quality will be assured. What processing is required, what equipment will be needed.
6 People Who we have on the team. Why they are the perfect people to carry out 5 and 4. Could include sub contractors.
7 Business structure. Who owns, who controls, who employs, by what mechanism, and why.
8 Premises What it takes to house 6 and what they need for 5 as close as possible to 3 and contributing to 4. Why the chosen premises fits.
9 Financial projections Costs of setting up. Fixed capital and working capital requirements. Cash flow projections for at least three years. Notes explaining the assumptions upon which these figures are based. Profit and loss projections for at least three years. Projected balance sheets to correspond.
10 Risk analysis Possible constraints such as: planning permission, legal requirements, policies, insurance, time factors - and how you will deal with them.
For more information go to Co-operative social firms
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