Ensuring social enterprise solutions are at the heart of our economy - Duncan Thorp

The Scottish Government recently published the new programme for government, the series of policy pledges for the year ahead. There’s lots in there that will be of interest to people across Scotland and to our social entrepreneurs and voluntary sector organisations.

Duncan Thorp, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Social Enterprise Scotland

A fairer, greener Scotland has been negotiated between The Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, as part of a new type of co-operation agreement. This ensures a majority in The Scottish Parliament and two Green ministers in government for the very first time.

There’s a key section for social enterprises called “An Economy that works for all of Scotland’s People and Places” that says: “We will also support businesses with alternative ownership models, including cooperatives and social enterprises, with a view to increasing their representation in the Scottish economy, and increase the number of employee owned businesses in Scotland to 500 by 2030.”

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In the “Living Better” section it adds: “We will also support the social enterprise sector as it works to tackle pressing social issues including homelessness and climate change – investing £5 million over three years to help community organisations recover from the pandemic, give every child the opportunity to engage with a social enterprise during their time at school, and promote international social enterprises in emerging markets like Africa and South East Asia.”

There are many diverse policy pledges in the programme that are relevant to social enterprises. It's also worth bearing in mind that we already have the Social Enterprise Action Plan commitments in place, part of the national 10 year plan for social enterprises.

Some of the key policy pledges of broad interest include promoting and establishing Scotland as a world-leading centre for green and ethical finance. There's also further support for housing cooperatives, including potentially through LBTT tax relief.

The big policy is to establish a National Care Service (NCS), including “ethical commissioning” and implementing a Fair Work agenda. A Good Food Nation Bill plus Local Food Strategy, aimed at ‘grow your own’ initiatives and harnessing public sector procurement, is also in there.

There will be further progress on a multi-year funding model for third sector organisations and the government has pledged to work with local Third Sector Interfaces to strengthen their influence and revise funding to give more support to areas of highest deprivation.

Legislation to improve Charity Law, strengthening the legal and regulatory framework to enhance public trust is included and there will be an ambitious Minimum Income Guarantee, to ensure that everyone has enough money to live with dignity plus Scottish Child Payment to children under 16 by the end of 2022.

There's much more, like a planned Community Wealth Building Bill, helping create and protect jobs and enable greater community and third sector ownership of assets. In addition there will be a £50 million low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment scheme and a Land Reform Bill to address the concentration of land ownership, including a public interest test, doubling the Scottish Land Fund by the end of the Parliament.

We look forward to the next year and working with our partners in social enterprise and the third sector, as well as with national and local government, to ensure that social enterprise solutions are at the heart of our economy.

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