Recently we saw the great and the good (and the not so good) undertake the annual pilgrimage to the UK’s Party conferences.
There was a focus on the NHS at every conference – its lack of funding, stretched resources, and general woeful state. This focus extended to the care system at the Labour Party conference when attention turned to bringing social care into the NHS fold. Labour MP Andy Burnham asked conference delegates:
“How much longer, in this the century of the ageing society, will we allow a care system in England to be run as a race to the bottom, making profits off the backs of our most vulnerable?”
He went on to say:
“The market is not the answer to 21st century health and care.”
So, if Labour had their way, the private sector would not play a role in helping meet the needs of our older population. The inference being that any private sector company does not have the same ethics, compassion or social purpose as a public sector organisation and couldn’t possibly provide the type of support older people need.
Yet, what do older people want? They want to remain independent, they want to know there’s a safety net when they need it, they want to be treated with dignity and respect, they want companionship. All of which can be provided by a private sector organisation, particularly a small business.
I’ve worked in commercial organisations for most of my life, with a significant amount of time spent either running or consulting to SMEs. Many of the managing directors or owners I know have lost sleep about keeping their business afloat at some point. This isn’t due to financial greed, it’s because they care.
They will go without pay so they can keep their staff in work as long as possible. They’ll work around the clock to ensure the company can deliver the products or services their customers are relying on. They’ll get ‘stuck in’ with the local community, whether that’s volunteering, donating goods and services, or sponsoring local groups and clubs.
Labour made the assumption that a business operating for profit has no morals and lacks the impetus to support the community in which they operate, unless for PR gain. Yet – as a commercial business owner – I’m a strong believer of ‘doing well by doing good’ and I know I’m not alone.
At Evermore we are motivated by the desire to tackle the isolation and institutionalisation of older people. We will achieve this via a profit-making business, one that isn’t reliant on government funding to survive. Instead, we’re building a sustainable and scalable model with ambitious growth targets. Growing Evermore will mean a greater number of older people will have the opportunity to live happier, for longer.
The adage of serving shareholders first might be still true for the blue chips of this country, but for the majority of SMEs – making up 99.9% of private companies in the UK – we put our community first.
Sara McKee, Evermore Founder & Director of Market Innovation
Follow Sara @SaraMcKeeFRSA
This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post here