In this new ongoing series, Edge Hill Business School staff offer their views on current organisational, economic and policy issues. 

The governor of the Bank of England was recently quoted in the press as saying that the economic recovery is “neither balanced nor sustainable”.

For those working across the not for profit sector (including charities, voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises) this is not good news at all. We need to add into the analysis from the Bank of England those cuts in public spending which are to come. We know that the level of cuts implemented so far represent 40% of the anticipated total. And we know too that both political parties are expecting that the austerity levels will continue until 2018.

What does this mean then for a sector which partly depends on grants and direct funding or which is increasingly looking to ‘win’ contracts to provide public services ? And what does it mean too for those social enterprises many of which are small businesses looking to develop ? We know that there are two key elements which need to be present : a sustainable business model and a focus on leadership and decision making.

The longer term weak recovery of the economy will put at risk both of these unless there is support for the sector. Whilst I accept that such support can come from a variety of sources – and universities are only one potential source – I think that what we can offer is both tailored support as well as bringing together individuals and businesses to learn from each other. We do have skills and scale which can be of benefit to the sector. The crisis is far from over and what we are in the process of doing is transferring responsibility for services to a sector which has many skills and insights at a time when resources ate being cut significantly. Learning from and learning with are ways of supporting and developing the skills and capacities of a sector which has a set of public duties which the private sector does not have to be mindful of.