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Micro-Enterprises: Small enough to care?

This report presents findings of an evaluation of micro-enterprises in social care in England, which ran from 2013 to 2015. Organisations are here classed as micro if they employ five or fewer full-time equivalent staff. The aim of the project was to test the extent to which micro-enterprises deliver services that are personalised, valued, innovative and cost-effective, and how they compare with small, medium and large providers.

Working in three parts of the country, researchers compared 27 organisations providing care and support, of which 17 were microenterprises, 2 were small, 4 were medium and 4 were large. The project team interviewed and surveyed 143 people (staff, older people, people with disabilities and carers) who received support from the 27 providers.

The findings presented are relevant to people who use services and their families; social care commissioners; regulators and policy makers at a local and national level; people who provide care services; and social entrepreneurs who are considering setting up micro forms of support.

The research was based at the University of Birmingham. It was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of a project entitled Does Smaller mean Better? Evaluating Micro-enterprises in Adult Social Care (ESRC Standard Grant ES/ K002317/1).