Scotland's Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026

A ten-year, national social enterprise strategy, which sets out our shared ambitions for social enterprise in Scotland, jointly developed with the sector.

Delivering On Our Ambitions for Scotland

Social enterprise is a vital partner in the economy, civil society and in creating a fairer, more inclusive Scotland. It is key to the sustainable delivery of public services and to realising the potential within Scotland's communities. Social enterprise is also an important part of our national identity and international reputation.

The strategy demonstrates how enduring values - a belief in enterprise, a commitment to fairness, equality and solidarity, and a passion for democratic engagement - can be delivered through social enterprise, to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country, improving outcomes for all of Scotland's citizens.

Inclusive Economic Growth

One of the reasons the Scottish Government supports the social enterprise sector is in recognition of its contribution to our core purpose of increasing sustainable economic growth. It will help deliver our shared ambition of greater prosperity for our country while ensuring that there is fairness in how our nation's wealth, resources and opportunities are distributed.

Scotland's Economic Strategy

Scotland’s Economic Strategy

Social enterprises and other socially responsible businesses contribute to each of the four mutually reinforcing priorities set out in Scotland's Economic Strategy [5] , and make a particular contribution to our approach to inclusive growth. As an inclusive way of doing business, the social enterprise sector can help us address inequalities in the distribution of income, regional performance and opportunity that hold our economy back.

As part of this approach, social enterprises have been shown to deliver fair work and well-paid jobs. In turn, they can help to harness the talents of more people and boost productivity. This is consistent with the aspirations of Scotland's Fair Work Convention [6] and the commitment we expect from progressive businesses across Scotland [7] .

Also, through establishing viable business activity in underserved markets and in fragile local economies, social enterprises contribute to place and regional cohesion. The impact of social enterprise is particularly pronounced in the Highlands and Islands region where the sector plays a key part in a balanced economic strategy for the region [8] . Our investment in social enterprises can therefore help ensure that more parts of the country are benefiting from economic growth and prosperity, while supporting rural development, protecting fragile communities and promoting the Gaelic language.

More generally, through the services they deliver and the opportunities they create, social enterprises play a key role in tackling inequalities - a central goal of the Scottish Government since 2007 [9] . Social enterprises can help us to do more to address the underlying causes of poverty and inequality across a range of issues to ensure everyone is able to live in a fairer, healthier and happier country, where all people are valued and able to achieve their potential. These commitments are reflected in our Fairer Scotland Action Plan [12] .

By helping to unlock the full potential of more people furthest from the labour market [10] , social enterprises can help harness productive capacity and therefore strengthen long-term economic performance.

Social enterprises are also working hard to promote equality and tackle discrimination and prejudice where it still exists. The sector has already shattered the glass ceiling for women at the top of social enterprises, found ways to successfully reintegrate people with convictions and disabilities into the labour market, and demonstrated potential to reach out to minority ethnic communities. Through social enterprise we can work towards making Scotland a fairer country - an inclusive society, open to all individuals and groups in all their diversity. More broadly social enterprise is consistent with our commitment to embed human rights [11] in everything we do - particularly economic, social and cultural ( ESC) rights. This includes work to implement the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights.

Scotland Key Facts

Source: Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015

Info Graphic - Scotland Key Facts

Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship

The Scottish Government's long-term commitment to social enterprise will support our shared ambition to create a world-leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation [13] .

This ambition, to make Scotland the best place in the UK to do business, focuses on innovation, skills and productivity. In particular, the ability of Scottish businesses to succeed depends on innovation as a fundamental driver of long-term competitiveness.

Fostering a strong culture of entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with innovation and will help create a more innovative and productive economy. Scotland is already fortunate to have many inspirational social entrepreneurs, but by encouraging more we can create the opportunity for people from all walks of life to create, lead and grow successful social enterprises.

A variety of evidence from work in schools, colleges and universities has shown the potential of social enterprise to ignite a passion for entrepreneurship and social change among young people. A more widespread focus on social enterprise can therefore provide an opportunity to pursue an education system with entrepreneurship and innovation at its core, where the potential of Scotland's young workforce [14] is developed. This will seize the opportunities presented by Curriculum for Excellence, Career Education Standard (3-18), Enterprising Schools programme, College reform, and innovation among Scotland's world-leading universities.

As a relatively youthful and dynamic business sector, social enterprise already supports the formation of new business activity. We see opportunities for our investment in social enterprise to give rise to new business models in many sectors of the Scottish economy, and to grow its contribution in fast-growing sectors such as the creative industries where its presence is already strong. There are also opportunities to continue to develop innovative business models that contribute to a more circular economy [15] , finding a productive use for resources that would otherwise go to waste.

Scotland Key Facts

Source: Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015

Info Graphic - Scotland Key Facts

Better Public Services

High quality public services are essential to a fair and prosperous society. The Scottish Government's commitment to social enterprise will support our vision of a public service delivery landscape that is affordable and rises to the challenge of tackling inequalities.

Those who deliver public services recognise that the world is changing and that our services need to respond to the changing demands and expectations of the public. Our approach to public services and to public service reform continues to be informed by the findings of the Christie Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services [16] . This provides a consistent and clear strategic direction, including a decisive shift towards prevention, greater integration of public services at a local level, and greater creativity in the way the public service workforce is mobilised.

We will continue to work with the social enterprise community to support the delivery of person-centred services that our fellow citizens rely on. Social enterprises will support the next phase of public service reform in Scotland.

The social enterprise sector has a long history of public service innovation, finding new and better ways to deliver services that shift the balance of provision from costly crisis intervention to prevention. By investing in social enterprise models, we recognise the potential to reduce future demand on Scotland's public services. This is central to our commitments relating to health and social care integration, reducing reoffending, the expansion of early learning and childcare, and many other areas of public policy.

The development of the social enterprise sector is also opening up new forms of partnership and new approaches to complex social problems. Our trust in and support for social enterprises will enable better collaboration across organisational boundaries and more effective local delivery based on the shared outcomes that matter to people.

Social enterprise also brings a large frontline workforce of people skilled in co-producing services based on local talents and networks. By working collaboratively, we will unlock the full creativity and potential of people at all levels of public service, empowering them to work together creatively.

Scotland Key Facts

Source: Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015

Info Graphic - Scotland Key Facts

Stronger Communities

The Scottish Government's long-term commitment to social enterprise will support our goal of strong, resilient and supportive communities.

Scotland's communities are a source of energy, creativity and talent. They are made up of people with rich and diverse backgrounds who each have something to contribute to making Scotland flourish. We know that we will only achieve sustainable and inclusive communities for all our citizens when local people themselves play a full part in delivering change.

Across the country, thousands of people have already come together to form democratically controlled social enterprises that are now running locally important services. Social and community enterprises are an important part of strengthening communities and increasing participation. They can lead to the delivery of better, more responsive services and better outcomes for communities.

Community and co-operative enterprises are already playing a key role in community-led regeneration, supporting the vision first set out in Scotland's Regeneration Strategy [17] . By supporting more locally controlled enterprises, we can enable communities to take on the ownership of viable physical assets (land, buildings, renewable energy technologies, etc.), help people to organise and respond to challenges in places where capacity is currently low, and create sustainable community anchor organisations that can lead to long-term regeneration. This supports our priorities for Scotland's cities, town centres, rural and island communities.

As community ownership is central to the powers of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act [18] we expect to see an increase in community owned and controlled social enterprises over time as community asset transfer and participatory budgeting are used by communities to reshape local services and create empowered communities.

Creating empowered communities and enabling community enterprise to flourish will support wider policy priorities, for example, strengthening local economies, improving local housing, putting land to productive uses, localising food production, linking local energy supply to demand, and supporting community action on climate change.

Scotland Key Facts

Source: Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015

Info Graphic - Scotland Key Facts

International Reputation

The Scottish Government's long-term commitment to social enterprise will support our international ambitions as outlined in Scotland's Economic Strategy and International Framework [19] .

In particular, our International Framework outlines our commitment to being a good global citizen, making distinctive contributions in addressing global challenges such as climate change, tackling inequality and promoting human rights, sharing knowledge and skills and technical expertise for global good. Our support for social enterprise internationally will help us to achieve this aim.

The Scottish Government is working to strengthen Scotland's place and standing in the world. For a country of just over five million people, we command a global reputation and awareness that far outstrips our size. There is enormous potential for us to capitalise yet further on that excellent international reputation through social enterprise. As such, we have already set out our commitment to growing Scotland's international excellence, leadership, and impact in this field in our Internationalising Social Enterprise Strategy [20] .

Many social enterprises are already good global citizens, collaborating internationally and supporting our international development efforts [21] . By helping to grow the international reach of social enterprises, we will be able to use our international activity to promote policy priorities such as climate change, gender equality, educational attainment, human rights and democratic participation - exchanging knowledge and building relationships in support of our domestic priorities and implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland by 2030.

A small but growing number of social enterprises now trade in overseas markets, supporting the aim of Scotland's Trade and Investment Strategy [22] . We will encourage more social enterprises to increase awareness of international opportunities and become more global in their outlook, helping them to go on to grow their international sales and impact.

Social enterprise is already enhancing Scotland's reputation and attractiveness. Through supporting social enterprises to expand their footprint in fields such as heritage and tourism, and their connections outside of Scotland, we can make the country an attractive destination for foreign visitors and inward investment.

Our pioneering work in the social enterprise field also means that Scotland is becoming recognised as a world leader in knowledge about social enterprise and the leading destination for learning about it. Further action will enable us to build on Scotland's world-class education offering and reputation for academic research excellence.

Scotland Key Facts

Source: Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015

Info Graphic - Scotland Key Facts


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