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  • in reply to: Pioneers Post #19484
    Richard Cobbett

    Thanks to Nicky, James and David for your comments.

    It looks as though there is general agreement, that SEM criteria have technically been met when considering the two companies as a whole. The concerns that remain strike me as ones about the transparency of intent and commitment to social enterprise principles, that the unusual arrangement poses. However, I think we need to continue to be careful that we don’t make judgements speculating on possibilities going forward and assess on present facts. The bottom line is, we review the position every year so if they make changes or behave in ways that evidently contravene Mark requirements, this should be picked up.

    I understand the concerns that the more flexible we become the greater the risk that people undermine those principles of social enterprise that the Mark is meant to encapsulate. From a personal point of view, I would probably be even stricter in how we apply certain criteria and as a result, perhaps I try to look at things too objectively! But I also think there is increasing evidence to suggest that the social enterprise model is evolving and we need to be able to accommodate this. My impression is that more people are setting up social enterprises in ways that depend on investment opportunities for them to make it happen, which is why we are seeing more companies limited by shares appear, as well as those who try to “disguise” their social enterprise credentials through setting up trading subsidiaries; sadly, investors and other types of business partner seemingly continue to mistrust the social enterprise model.

    As such, I have a certain sympathy with Tim’s explanation. But having now established themselves, one would hope that it should be possible to put in place a more transparent structure that provides greater reassurance of London Fields primary commitment to being a social enterprise, so I will go back to him and say that their approval is subject to them making changes going forward, and that the Panel have asked to review the position once he has. To try and be helpful, I will also invite him to explain such plans ahead of implementing them, so that you can comment on what is being proposed ahead of making changes.

    I will hold off contacting Tim until next Monday at earliest, so if any of you have anything further to add then please do.

    in reply to: Pioneers Post #19474
    Richard Cobbett

    From: David Butler <>
    Sent: 15 December 2020 17:24
    To: Richard Cobbett <>;;;; Lucy Findlay <>;;
    Cc: Katrina Shipp <>
    Subject: RE: Pioneers Post – Panel Opinion Required

    HI Richard
    I agree that it is an unusual one and there clearly is some level of risk that the profit extraction could be manipulated, however providing they do change their articles then it would protect the social enterprise principle.
    I currently see no reason to object but think we should check that their articles do get updated.

    David Butler


    T: 0117 9100294
    M: 07990 596472

    in reply to: Pioneers Post #19379
    Richard Cobbett

    Thanks Gareth. I think you have almost hit the nail on the head as regards both your queries, when you talk about how social impact is achieved through the subsidiary. In effect, Pioneers Post and London Fields represent the combined social enterprise; for our purposes, we are not really distinguishing one from the other when assessing such questions. The rather convoluted evolvement of ownership and directorships that Tim explains in one of the attachments I included in the evidence hopefully is enough to satisfy that this is the case; there is a certain separation of interests on these ownership and directorship levels between the two entities, but not in how the two companies relate with each other and operate.

    Pioneers Post, in effect, does not do anything other than own London Fields, which performs their trading function, through which they deliver the social impact described. There is therefore no point handing profits back to Pioneers Post as the only social purpose activity being supported is through London Fields.

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