Scottish social enterprise strategy

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==Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy 2007==
==Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy 2007==

Latest revision as of 06:16, 9 December 2017

see also: File:Social Enterprise Strategy for Wales 2005.pdf

Comprehensive strategies for social economy


Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026

Presentation by Pauline Graham (Social Firms Scotland) and Kim Wallace (Senscot) at meeting of ESF Social Economy Thematic Network in Madrid, 16-17 October 2017

Some statistics: Scotland has over 5,600 social enterprises, employing 87,000 people, 64% of whom are women. It is 56% urban and 32% rural. It shows a 1:2.5 wage differential and has gender-balanced boards.

The strategy has been developed bottom-up though a process of coproduction: Senscot and Social firms Scotland went out to the movement, asked them if they wanted to develop the strategy, and consulted over an 18-month period. It is based on Scotland’s strategy for inclusive growth.

The ecosystem has been developing apace since EQUAL times, but needed a long-term strategy to bring stability. Since 2007 the government has recognised the SE’s role in public service delivery, and its social as well as its economic value.

Scotland’s SE Strategy was published in December 2016. It is implemented through 3 action plans. It scored a first by being allocated a parliamentary debate.

The main relationship with the ESF is in inclusion, which has been used to create 3 funds:

  • Empowering Communities Fund (€21m) – active inclusion
  • Social Economy Growth Fund – social entrepreneurship
  • Social Innovation Fund, which gives 100% loans of between €33,000 and €55,000 to develop social, innovations such as food banks and affordable cremations. Assist Social Capital has created a mapping tool for social capital, as used for example by Linthouse Lunch Club for older People in 2012-14.

The Social Enterprise World Forum will be held in Edinburgh again on 12-14 September 2018.


Background paper:



Scottish Social Enterprise Strategy 2007

Abstract of a presentation given at the Regional Policy Open Days on 10 October 2007 by Roddy Macdonald, Head of Social Enterprise Team of the Scottish Government

See also: Open Days 2007 social economy

The purpose of this contribution to the Social Economy Workshop is to give the Scottish experience of developing a comprehensive social enterprise strategy and integrating aspects of the Equal Social Economy Scotland Development programme into this strategy.

Policy document

A policy document on social economy was first published in 2004 by the Scottish Executive. Futurebuilders Scotland – Investing in the Social Economy highlighted:

  • There is scope for the social economy to increase its contribution to the social and economic well-being of Scotland
  • Social economy organisations are particularly effective in working with excluded and disadvantaged people
  • The social economy should be encouraged to help tackle poverty and deprivation wherever it exists

This policy document introduced a:

  • £17m direct investment programme in social economy organisations
  • £1m support programme for social economy development in addressing issues such as research, procurement and awareness raising

By 2005 there was increasing interest in Scotland in social enterprise – the business model used by those social economy organisations most interested in trading and providing services to the public and private sector. Of around 45,000 voluntary sector organisations in Scotland it was the case that around 3,000 could be described as social enterprises. Scotland uses the UK wide definition of a social enterprise:

“Social enterprises are businesses with primary social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders or owners” (DTI, 2002).

Strategy and action plan

A Scottish Parliamentary debate on the social economy in May 2005 led to Scottish Ministers agreeing to produce Scotland’s first dedicated social enterprise strategy. Importantly, there was considerable cross-party support for the development of social enterprise activity in Scotland.

After extensive consultation Better Business – A strategy and action plan for social enterprise in Scotland [1] was published in March 2007. This strategy set out the following vision:

“Our vision is of social enterprise as a dynamic, sustainable and credible way of doing business, delivering services and actively improving our communities”

It also set out four strategic aims

  • Raising the profile and proving the value of social enterprise
  • Opening up markets to social enterprise
  • Increasing the range of finance available to develop social enterprise
  • Developing the trading capacity of social enterprises by providing better business support

Synergy with EQUAL

An important building block of the strategy was the European funded EQUAL Social Economy Scotland Development Partnership which has been operating in Scotland since 2002 bringing together a number of key partners in the social economy from across central and local government and the social economy. There was therefore an opportunity to add £0.116m (157,969 EUR) Equal resources into £1.5m (2,042,700 EUR) provided by Scottish Government. This meant that there would be a series of actions linked to the Equal programme in the strategy.

These include the following:

  • building an on-line searchable database of social enterprises in Scotland
  • marketing social enterprise
  • support for local social economy partnerships
  • guide to procurement for social enterprises
  • events for public sector buyers
  • public social partnerships pilot
  • reports on good practice in tendering with the public sector and housing associations


The publishing of a Social Enterprise Strategy has been an exciting development in our support for social enterprises and the wider social economy. When the political context changed in Scotland in May 2007 the Scottish National Party (SNP) Government were keen to acknowledge and implement the strategy and have indicated they see it as an important foundation to build further support for social enterprise and the third sector generally.

The new nationalist administration are therefore very supportive of the social enterprise agenda and are considering how to invest further in the sector through the Strategic Spending Review 2007 which sets the Government budget from 2008 – 2011.

It was highly valuable to integrate elements of Equal programme into our national strategy for social enterprise. This brought additional resources, knowledge and credibility with stakeholders. It also made an important link to the wider European dimension.

Overall, Scotland has been accessing various EU structural funds (ESF/ERDF etc.) over the years to support social enterprise development with some extremely good results. For example the funds provided from the Scottish Government through the social enterprise strategy forms the majority of the match funding for the EQUAL Partnership's Mainstreaming Programme so represents a good practice example of successful mainstreaming and policy impact which was a key objective of the EQUAL programme.

There is a further commitment from the Scottish Government to use the new EU structural funds programme in Scotland (2007 - 2013) to continue to support the development and growth of social enterprise in Scotland.


Roddy Macdonald
Head of Social Enterprise Team
Public Service Reform Directorate
Third Sector and Social Economy Division
Scottish Government
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ