Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Market Context

Community Micro-Enterprises are small (fewer than 8 employees/volunteers), local and person-centred organisations that provide a broad range of support to people in their community. It ranges from small, niche care providers to handy-people, cleaners, fitness instructors and peer-led support groups. This not only gives more choice to people who are purchasing care but also adds capacity to the care market by delivering tasks that don’t need to be delivered by a trained carer.

Many people who receive a direct payment are buying care and support from the same organisations that ECC purchases care and support from. This is often as a result of the fact there is a limited personalised market available to buy from.

Community micro-enterprises are intentionally small organisations who work in the local community they live in and provide personalised and tailored support for people. Their business/enterprise is built upon their reputation in the community, so they have a vested interest in providing good quality support.

ECC are encouraging and supporting the set-up of community micro-enterprises to increase choice for people in terms of the support they receive. The council provide information and signpost to advise and ensure the enterprises are following the “doing it right standards” to maintain quality of provision. Our focus is on South and North local areas currently and a road map is being developed to ensure coverage across the county.

People can purchase support from a community micro-enterprise through their direct payment. The council are also exploring options as to whether it is possible to purchase support directly form a community micro-enterprise

Essex Market
No. Providers 76 confirmed, a further 55 on the development programme and 33 at the enquiry stage
Average Rate per hour £17.50

The information shown in the table(s) above is correct as of 27 March 2023

ECC are in the second year of a 4-year project to boost the number of community enterprises. Year 1 was about setting the foundations for success. We have seen a rapid expansion in year 2 from 20 providers to 76 with a further 55 completing the development programme.  we continue to see a steady flow of enquiries to become part of the project.  There is also a focus on promoting Community Micro-enterprise with people who may wish to buy their services and promotion through the Tribe platform.

The current COVID impact highlighted is:

  • Covid had a positive and negative impact on the project. It has made it difficult to get into the communities to promote the project. It has also reduced the appetite for being self-employed as it highlighted the risks of being self-employed, for example no access to furlough. However, COVID introduced many new people to the social care sector through volunteering and raised awareness and this has encouraged some people to set up their own business offering support to others in their community.

Current market risks:

  • There is a risk around contingency when working with small providers of support. However, as part of the development programme we encourage the entrepreneurs to discuss contingency planning with prospective customers so they can have a back-up plan in place. To build the relationships between CMEs to help with contingency we are developing a network to build trust and relationships amongst the entrepreneurs.

Our current area of focus is:

  • Increasing number of Community Micro-enterprises in Essex (focus on South and North local areas).
  • Work with Tribe digital platform to promote Community Micro-enterprises to DP recipients and people who fund their own care.
Last updated: 31/05/2023