16th June 2022
Social entrepreneurs often step in to support communities in areas where legislation and government funding do not. The Queen's Speech marks the opening of Parliament and outlines the government's legislative priorities for the coming year. In response to last month's Speech, delivered by the Prince of Wales, social entrepreneurs Claire Prosho and Dr Marilyn Comrie shared with us their thoughts, which reference the cost of living crisis, human rights legislation, energy policies, educational changes, research and innovation, and social housing, to name a few.
At UnLtd, we are working with partners and social entrepreneurs to clarify and improve the proposed legislation announced. The Government must get these reforms right, so that all social entrepreneurs are able to fully realise their potential and create lasting change. Social entrepreneurs have the ability to truly uplift society and should be a priority for the Government to enable its Levelling-Up agenda.
If developed well, proposals like the Procurement Bill could significantly improve social entrepreneurs' access to the right markets and customers, fueling a thriving economy with social value at its heart.
On the Procurement Bill, Dr Marilyn Comrie OBE Principal - Founder of the Black United Representation Network CIC, comments -
"The Black United Representation Network exists to challenge and tackle inequalities impacting people of Caribbean and African descent to make the North of England the best place in the UK for Black residents to progress in their careers and for Black-owned social enterprises and businesses to thrive. We've been campaigning for greater inclusion in public procurement as a prerequisite for building back stronger and more sustainable Black enterprises post pandemic. We therefore wholeheartedly welcome the Procurement Bill outlined in the Queen's Speech, and would like to see the government honour a commitment to ringfence a minimum of 10% of its procurement contracts for businesses led by people with protected characteristics. I look forward to its implementation across the public sector and beyond."
These proposals are a priority for any conversations we have with Westminster, and UnLtd strongly believes that action to promote investment, in the interests of all people, will only succeed if growth opportunities – from procurement to finance - become equitably available to social entrepreneurs, especially those from underrepresented parts of society.
The Procurement Bill should prioritise building equity across society, and approaches for other legislation outlined in the Queen's Speech must be made with an equitable lens too.
Claire Prosho, founder of Claire's Transgender Talks, shares the Queen's Speech's impact on her day-to-day work as a trans inclusion educator –
"The UK Government has completely misled the public about the Conversion Therapy Bill in this year's Queen's Speech, missing yet another opportunity to join other world leading countries in protecting its most vulnerable citizens.
As currently proposed the 'Conversion Therapy Bill' completely excludes the UK Transgender community from protection from these abhorrent practices, ignoring every single reputable medical, psychiatric, psychological and therapeutic professional body in the UK and many others across the world.
There are absolutely no functional differences between 'gay' or 'trans' conversion therapy, banning one but excluding the other is inexcusable given that these practices amount to little more than psychological torture, causing lifelong trauma for those subjected to it. The Government's excuses in excluding trans people from this Bill amount to nothing more than reiterating tired old misinformation from those who are opposed to trans people existing, perpetuating the ongoing stigmas we face. It also ignores the Government's own data from the National LGBT Survey, which shows transgender people are twice as likely to be subjected to these practices.
I deal with this type of misinformation every time I meet with people and conduct training with organisations, and the Government is making life more difficult for every sector of the UK in neglecting this opportunity to start correcting the harm and social stigma that are associated with being transgender, harms based on outdated and harmful attitudes and misconceptions.
The Bill also allows several loopholes for these practices to continue completely unhindered for the entire LGBTQ+ community under the premise of being able to consent. Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention states that No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In excluding transgender people from the ban, and in providing loopholes for Conversion Abuse to continue, the UK Government sends a clear message that its 'OK' to abuse LGBTQ+ people, and trans people specifically.
A shameful stance, and an abject failure."
Society must be a safe place for all to live and thrive in, and hope that follow ups to the Queen's Speech includes a true commitment by the Government for equity. Social entrepreneurs and UnLtd believe in supporting and uplifting historically marginalised communities with equity, and hope the Government joins us in this to accelerate society towards our shared vision for a safe and sustainable future.
As outlined in our Breaking Down Barriers strategy, we want to campaign for a just world, and will help the voices and experiences of social entrepreneurs be heard by wider audiences of those able to implement change through policy and legislation.
You can read the Queen's Speech in full at gov.uk.
Image description: Four members of a social enterprise are in discussion in a community garden.