We launched a new report today on the top ten ways in which councils are boosting – and bashing – micro-enterprises in their area. Whilst some areas limit ways of spending personal budgets or access to ‘approved provider’ lists to tried and tested large providers, others actively encourage creativity and have thought through the environment needed for successful start-ups. Some councils throw a bit of money at budding micro-entrepreneurs in the hope that some great ideas will stick, whilst others have used the learning from successful micro-enterprise programmes (eg 125 jobs and 40 volunteering opportunities created in three years by Oldham’s Community Catalysts programme) to create a really thoughtful support programme which gives entrepreneurs a fighting chance of success.
The variation in micro-enterprise support is huge. Even areas with expensive brokerage systems are often only able to offer people the option of a Personal Assistant or traditional services. The report suggests that most areas have some way to go to unlock local people’s creativity and to raise aspirations. But the rewards are huge, as Angela Catley of our sister organisation, Community Catalysts, points out in an interesting article about micro-enterprise, which includes a picture of the Green Team in Dudley, which was set up by three support workers to provide people with learning disabilities with an alternative to day services in the shape of meaningful work as part of a gardening team.