The Social Value Act and Human Rights

As the UK Public Sector (Social Value) Act  comes into force, I relate to MP Mark Harper how government partnerships with big business  in which their financial conribution is a qualifying criteria, undermines social enterprise and human rights activism to benefit organised crime:

Dear Mark Harper MP,

Thank you for looking into the issue of our social enterprise activities in Ukraine and the response from the British Council .

Unfortunately you have not been given an accurate picture of the issue..

From 2004 operating as a UK based social enterprise, we began our mission to leverage social enterprise development in Ukraine working alongside local civic action and human rights organisations in Kharkiv and by October 2006 had delivered our proposal paper to govenment channels

In December 2008 we made enquiries about UK government support to the Foreign and Commonweath Office and their response is at the end of this email. As you may observe, they are fully aware of our work in Ukraine. I understand that the FCO provides funding for The British Council.

By this time our ‘Death Camps, For Children’ article had been widely read, as had our proposal for childcare reform and a social enterprise centre in Kharkiv National University.

In 2007 Ukraine’s goverment had announced plans to adopt one of the major recommendations, the creation of 400+ rehab centres for disabled children.

In February 2008 direct contact was made with USAID, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the US Ambassador for Ukraine, reminding them of our proposal and the urgent need for tackling the problem of disabled children in Ukraine’s institutional care system.

In December 2008 the paper was also introduced to the EU Citizens Consultation and was viewable through their prominent web portal

In July 2010 the proposal was put foward in a social business ideas competition run by Erste Bank, who are now one of the partners in the joint British Council/USAID project.

In October 2010 a social enterprise centre, as proposed in our 2006 plan, was created in Donetsk another city in the East of Ukraine.

Let me now turn to the matter of social enterprise definition. Ours is a self-sustaining business with a primary social objective, which distributes no dividend. it was conceived in our 1996 white paper and introduced to the UK in 2004, where it has since been our operational model. It is also described in our proposal in which Kim Alter’s social enterprise typology is also referred to

The approach known as social entrepreneurship which depends on grant and foundation funding support has been widely used over several decades . On the British Council website, the definition used is that which P-CED conceived in 1996 and introduced to the UK in 2004, prior to the introduction of the Community Interest Company model in 2005..

“Social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose profits are directed mainly at self-development, public affairs or resolving social problems. Such companies operate as business organisations do and generate profit, therefore they are non-charity. Social entrepreneurship is dynamically growing in European countries now, addressing unemployment, social protection and social inclusion. In particular, there are over 50,000 social enterprises only in the UK.”

Putting aside these multiple economies of truth, from the beginning the primary focus of our work has been the children abandoned to state care which were identified earlier this year in the BBC 4 documentary on Ukraine’s Forgotten Children. According to the written constitution of Ukraine, articles 26 and 52 of ‘Human and Citizen’s Rights Freedom and Duties , as residents we have a responsibility to act in the knowledge of children being exploited. A responsiblity shared by any UK subject or organisation resident in Ukraine..

Finally, Martin Davidson has stated that the abilty to make a financial contribution is one of the qualifying criteria for partnership with the British Council. Essentially corporate business is given the opportunity to buy into social enterprise development and as has already been demonstrated, steer around fundamental human rights issues which present a conflict of interest with commercial objectives.

Regards,

Jeff Mowatt

—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Jeff Mowatt
To: Richard.Bielby
Sent: Tuesday, 9 December 2008, 9:27
Subject: Re: Democracy and human rights in Ukraine

Dear Richard,

Thanks for your response. To explain the points you mention below, I had originally contacted the FCO in London with regard to our work in Ukraine, and on failing to get any response raised the matter with my MP Mark Harper in December 2007. Yours is the only response from the FCO from my original submission via the FCO contact form earlier that year.

My original enquiry was about funding support for our efforts, which I will explain below. I was aware from earlier enquiries to the DfID that their operation in Ukraine was closing down and that the FCO retained a small budget for development aid efforts. I was also aware that the Westminster Foundation for Democracy had been awared £300,000 approximately half that budget, for a parliamentary programme in Ukraine.

I then learned that WFD were to produce an exhibit to raise awareness of Ukraine’s Holodomor, something we began on a voluntary basis in the launch of our holodomor.org.uk site, six months or so earlier. It would be difficult to imagine this effort not being a resource to anyone developing such an exhibit.

I’m a tax paying individual, running a tax paying social enterprise which directs all profit and more toward humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. From where I sit, it would seem that while my enquiry about funding assistance is ignored, I’m contributing to a government sponsored group who would readily pass off our efforts as their own without a hint of acknolwledgement.

Now about our work. It begins with my colleague Terry Hallman’s efforts in Russia in sourcing rhe Tomsk Regional Initiative for USAID back in 1999. The project running between 2001 and 2004 pioneered microfinance in Russia and was replicated in several locations including Tblisi. In this period in Tomsk 10,000 new businesses were created with repayment and business survival rates both in excess of 95%.

P-CED UK began while Terry, a US citizen, was involved in leveraging a similar project of the Tatar community in Crimea.

As you will see from our website, these efforts are in line with out “swords to ploughshares” approach in Eastern Europe and as I can see from the FCO blog entries about Russia and
Arms Control, this is an approach which the FCO might endorse as being in UK interests.

Since 2004, when we first incorporated in the UK, our efforts have focussed on Ukraine, poverty and childcare reform in particular. Our ‘Marshall Plan’ paper for micreconomic development and social enterprise being delivered, to both Ukraine’s government and the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in October 2006. Of particular emphasis, was the plight of disabled children in institutional care and the need for more than 400 rehab centres to treat them.

In just over two years, we’ve seen 3 of this paper’s recommendations become Ukraine government policy, including the announcement of 400+ rehab centres and from the US in response to a call for investment in social enterprise we’ve seen the launch of the East Europe Foundation at Davos earlier this year.

Of even greater concern is the HIV epidemic raging in Ukraine, now considered a threat to all Europe. The paper, above all makes the case for a once and for all resolution of institutional childcare issues arising from poverty, which render children into care and to graduate to the streets to prostitution and crime in a continous cycle of poverty and exploitation which can only further catalyse this epidemic.

In the 4 years that we have existed as a UK social enterprise I have made many attempts to raise awareness of our work with government. This includes contacting the APPGs on social enterprise, microfinance and Ukraine. None have had sufficient interest to offer a response.

Regards,

Jeff Mowatt

.

— On Fri, 5/12/08, Richard.Bielby wrote:

From: Richard.Bielby
Subject: Democracy and human rights in Ukraine
To: jeff.mowatt
Date: Friday, 5 December, 2008, 11:25 AM

Dear Mr Mowatt

Thank you for your e-mail of 14 October to the Minister for Europe. I am replying as the desk officer responsible for Ukraine in the FCO.

I was very interested to read about the work P-CED is carrying out in Ukraine. But I’m afraid I didn’t fully understand the points you made in the final two paragraphs of your e-mail – for example regarding the lack of response from the FCO and your comments regarding the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. I would be happy to look into these issues further if you could provide some further details outlining your concerns.

Yours sincerely

Richard

Richard Bielby | Desk Officer, Ukraine | Europe Directorate | Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London, SW1A 2AH | e-mail richard.bielby@fco.gov.uk | telephone +44 (0) 20 7008 2393 | FTN 8008 2393 | website http://www.fco.gov.uk | visit our blogs at http://blogs.fco.gov.uk

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