By Ben Simmons

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson declared ‘ethical capitalism’ alive and well at the opening of a pioneering social enterprise business support centre in Southwark, led by PwC.

Johnson, alongside PwC Chairman Ian Powell, and PwC Vice Chairman Richard Collier Keywood presented to 150 representatives from London community organisations, charities, and social enterprises at the opening of the Fire Station on Tooley Street.

Based at a refurbished Fire Station on Tooley Street near London Bridge station, the centre, through its public, private and voluntary sector partner organisations, supports new and existing social enterprise business, providing up to 145 apprenticeship and work experience opportunities for people who have been homeless as well as a bar / bistro.

“Anyone in search of an example of ethical capitalism should look no further than the Fire Station in Tooley Street,” said Boris. “By lending vital business know-how during difficult economic times, it is helping to change lives by investing in and improving Londoners’ skills. It is social enterprise at its best.”

PwC’s research of public attitudes to social enterprise showed that while the perception of the sector’s social and community motivation was strong, the perception of their ability to compete with profit focused private enterprise was not.

Revealing consumer support for the potential for social enterprise to develop and deliver at scale across the UK, the majority of people (50%) surveyed nationally believed businesses with a social purpose could be more effective in supporting their local economy than government. This rose to 58% in the North East. Two out of three respondents said, irrespective of their social objectives, businesses have a responsibility to help the communities in which they are based. Almost a third (30%) said they did not believe social enterprises could be as competitive as a purely profit focused business.

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