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Scottish social enterprises contribute £2.3bn to economy

Scotland’s social enterprise sector continues to grow in size and scale, according to a new report.

The Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2019 report reveals that the sector’s economic contribution has grown by 13% since 2017 to £2.3 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2019.

The research shows a consistent rate of growth in the number of social enterprises over the past 4 years, with an estimated 6,025 social enterprises actively operating. While growth in total number of social enterprises remains consistent at 8% every two years since the first biannual census in 2015, it is outpaced by the sector’s economic contribution.

The net worth of the sector has increased by more than a fifth (22%) since 2017, reaching £6.1 billion and annual income generated has grown by 16% to £4.4 billion.

Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government announced the Census’s key findings  at the annual Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS) Policy and Practice Conference in Glasgow.

In her remarks on the Census, Campbell looked to the future and challenged the social enterprise sector to understand, and maximise its important contribution to the development of a Wellbeing Economy in Scotland. She added:

The Scottish Government is committed to working closely with third sector intermediaries to understand key issues and develop…plans collaboratively.

The census also demonstrated that 75% of social enterprises pay their employees at least a living wage (increasing from 68% in 2015), while women lead 65% of social enterprises in Scotland.

Three quarters (76%) of social enterprises responding to the census identified that their business started due to gaps in local service provision (rising to 80% in rural areas) and 79% of all social enterprises trade directly with consumers (an increase from 68% in 2015).

Ian Mitchell, CEO of Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), said:

While the economic contribution of social enterprise is impressive, the value to society will be equally impressive and we need to do further work to capture this in future as the sector puts in place a dynamic package of support measures at national and local level to allow social enterprise to go from strength to strength.

Image: The Melting Pot, one of Scotland’s Social Enterprises.