Swedish WISE policy

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Sweden announces policy for WISEs

Sweden is to launch a major new policy to support WISEs – work integration social enterprises. The decision, taken on 20th October 2009, was announced by Eva Johansson from the country’s development agency Tillväxtverket at a conference in Brussels on 22nd October.

The forthcoming legislation will introduce a definition for WISEs which is based on the criteria of:

  • participation and empowerment of users
  • reinvestment of profits
  • independence from public authorities

The law will cover information (for instance on public procurement contracts with local authorities), education, skills, co-operation, start-up subsidies, support for institutions and possibly research.

WISEs are already well established in Sweden, and in the last year the country’s public employment service has started to use public procurement procedures to buy 1,000 work and rehabilitation places for long-term unemployed people as well as 750 for people with a mental illness. The contracts are made directly with the social enterprises, and are paid on a per head basis, partly up front and partly in arrears. This is in addition to the 50,000 places that qualify for a wage subsidy.

The lesson of this innovative use of public procurement, Ms Johansson says, is that public authorities should not try to buy from social enterprises identical services to those they have historically provided themselves. Rather, they should ask social enterprises to propose innovative solutions.

The Swedish initiative was announced at the European Economic and Social Committee’s seminar on 22nd October 2009 on the subject “Getting to the End of the Tunnel: Creating the Right Environment for the Social Economy”.

See also: Handlingsplan för arbetsintegrerande sociala företag

Eva Johansson
+46 8 681 9661