Building a sustainable social enterprise sector in Scotland: 2017-2020

Action plan setting out the first steps in Scottish Government's social enterprise strategy, in particular pertaining to inclusive growth.

Priority 3: Realising Market Opportunity

"We will enable more consumers, public authorities and businesses to understand and purchase from social enterprises"

3A. Public Markets

We recognise that the considerable purchasing power of Scotland's public sector creates a market in which social enterprises can and should play a more central role. During a decade framed by legislative and regulatory changes, the foundations for sustainable and socially responsible public sector procurement are now in place. Our ambition is to build upon these foundations and rapidly increase the number and range of social enterprises involved in shaping and delivering Scotland's public services.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


3A.1. Supporting commissioners and buyers

We will draw on lessons from the national Developing Markets for Third Sector Providers programme and determine any successor arrangements required to support Scotland's public sector commissioners and buyers.

3A.2. Developing Public Social Partnerships

We will provide ongoing support for five strategic Public Social Partnership ( PSP) projects, evaluating fully the effectiveness of this strategic commissioning model before determining future support.

3A.3. Supporting implementation of the sustainable procurement duty

We will support the implementation of the sustainable procurement duty set out in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act. Working in partnership with local authorities and Scotland Excel we will promote effective practices and ensure there is a clear understanding of the capacity, capability and positive impact that social enterprises bring.

3A.4. Extending the use of Community Benefit agreements

We will expand the use and impact of Community Benefits Clauses in public contracts, creating further supply chain opportunities for social enterprises in doing so.

3A.5 Expanding the use of Reserved Contracts

We will make it easier for public bodies to identify and reserve contracts for a wider range of social enterprises, now covered by a revised EU definition of 'Supported Business'. As a first step, we will introduce a new Supported Business Directory, while we continue to obtain a better understanding of the expanded capacity within the Supported Business sector and identify preferred route(s) to market and purchaser requirements.

3A.6. Unlocking early learning and childcare Opportunities

We will encourage the social enterprise sector to play its full role in the delivery of an expansion of publicly funded hours of early learning and childcare.

3A.7. Realising market opportunities in health and social care

We will work with partners across the strategic commissioning agenda within Health and Social Care to highlight the benefits that social enterprises bring for choice and sustainability in local communities and to realise associated opportunities.

3A.8. Growing the role of social enterprise in criminal justice

We will raise awareness of the contribution of social enterprises to Scotland's Community Justice Strategy, share associated best practice and identify opportunities for the sector to deliver better outcomes for people in the care of the Scottish Prison Service.

3A.9. Unlocking the potential to deliver employability services

We will introduce new commissioning models that can deliver opportunities for social enterprises as part of the transfer of employability powers to Scotland. For example, we will reserve one of the nine employment service contract 'lots' for Supported Businesses while promoting their capacity to deliver employment support to potential bidders in all other contracts.

3B. Consumer Markets

We know that people across Scotland are becoming more concerned about how their products and services are sourced and how they make purchases. These ethical considerations have the potential to fuel demand for social enterprise goods and services. Social enterprises must therefore become more visible to consumers and tap into the consumers' desire to buy ethically.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


3B.1. Understanding consumer attitudes

We will support research into consumer awareness and attitudes to social enterprise. This will enable a better understanding of the scale of opportunity and task facing the sector.

3B.2. Building the social enterprise marketplace

We will establish the feasibility of a national directory and e-commerce marketplace for social enterprises.

3B.3. Showcasing social enterprise places

We will celebrate social enterprise activity in villages, towns, islands and cities by introducing an appropriate national campaign that will reach all parts of Scotland.

3B.4. Promoting local goods and services

We will support a small number of pilot campaigns and events in community venues and public settings that showcase the goods and services of social enterprises.

3B.5. Building the social enterprise brand

We will introduce the international Buy Social certification scheme to Scotland, ensuring appropriate adaptation and a locally responsive method on implementation. With this in place, the Scottish Government family would want to become 'adopters' in support of this.

3B.6. Developing the supply of social enterprise products

We will support Social Investment Scotland to establish a number of Buy Social Academies, supporting clusters of social enterprises to develop goods and products and enter consumer markets.

3C. Business Markets

We view social enterprise as part of a wider community of businesses committed to improving society and the economy of Scotland. We also envisage substantial opportunities to increase business-to-business trade within this community. Our ambition is to steadily raise awareness and increase the level of trade between social enterprises and other businesses.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


3C.1. Building relationships within the business community

We will support joint initiatives between appropriate representative bodies, which will raise awareness of social enterprise within Scotland's business community.

3C.2. Identifying enablers and constraints on progress

We will support research into the awareness, attitudes, and barriers to doing business with social enterprises. This will identify opportunities for more productive business relationships.

3C.3. Making corporate connections

We will bring forward proposals to pilot a small-scale corporate challenge and brokerage service designed to connect and integrate social enterprises into the supply chains of major corporations.

3C.4. Developing retail supply chains

We will encourage the development of initiatives such as the ASDA supplier developer initiative, to increase the role of social enterprises in the supply chains of major retail groups.


Email: Will Tyler-Greig

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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