A £73m social enterprise fund will be given to start-up social enterprises in health and social care, according to health minister Ivan Lewis.

Speaking at social enterprise conference yesterday, Mr Lewis said the government aimed to deliver a 'real boost to the social enterprise sector' by making cash available to budding social enterprises.

'Social enterprises will have a key role in the reform of how health and community services are delivered÷ ·¥ are underpinning these reforms with proper financial backing.'

Mr Lewis also named the DoH's selection of 25 'pathfinder' projects, announced by the health secretary in November, which will now be able to bid for a share of a further£1m allocated as a social enterprise start-up boost.

Mr Lewis told the conference that the government hopes the projects will deliver a 'wide range of innovative services that work for the benefit of individuals and the community more widely'.

'This funding will give them access to a package of support that will include financial help and access to wider support such as business advice and training,' he added.