An open letter to the social enterprise community in Scotland

Posted: 08 March 2022, in News

You might already be aware that the Scottish Government has been working with the current
intermediaries to support the sector to realise its aspirations to have a single enhanced intermediary to represent it nationally, which was supported and informed by recent research.

Social Enterprise Scotland submitted an application for grant funding to deliver as the single intermediary and we were told yesterday that Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government, The Scottish Government, has approved our proposal. We have attached Ms. Robison’s letter committing to an inclusive, sector-wide approach to build a single enhanced intermediary. It was reassuring to read:

“I want social enterprises, large and small, throughout Scotland to influence the future direction and set the priorities for the new body and I have asked my officials to ensure that anyone with an interest in social enterprise in Scotland has an opportunity to have their say. Lastly, I would like to reassure you and the sector that Scotland’s social enterprise intermediary is about the full diversity of social enterprise in Scotland. It will be funded and held to account for the public money received to ensure that all types of social enterprise are held in equal esteem and share best practice across the sector, enabling all of the sector to contribute to Scotland’s success at home and abroad.”

We acknowledge the important work SENScot has contributed to over the years; in fact, Social Enterprise Scotland was itself born out of the organisation and we want to give reassurance that we will commit to co-producing the future of the new single intermediary with the networks and current foundations which are currently in place.

Social Enterprise Scotland (SES) has committed to democratise the voice of social enterprises in Scotland to ensure all social enterprises have an equal voice. We will continue to act collaboratively and, in partnership, launch an intermediary governed and owned by the constituents it serves. Ms Robison referred to this new governance structure in her statement yesterday and committed to ensure it represents all voices. We will work closely with all partners to ensure all voices are equally represented. There has also been much discussion over Social Enterprise Scotland’s membership criteria, however, we want to reassure everyone of the value we attribute to the Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise in Scotland and we are committed to championing it.

SES engaged in a consultation in preparation for submitting this application and we intend to build on that to understand how we can best serve the sector as the archway to this new single intermediary. We see SENScot as a vital partner to build this new entity. We recognise that many who have served the sector for so many years are integral to the ongoing support for grassroots social enterprises.

We are acutely aware of the realities that the decision to fund one organisation would entail, however, we believe that working with current delivery partners to build a single interface to the sector will empower the ecosystem in Scotland to thrive. Our bid committed to ensure resource was allocated to provide continuity of support for the Social Enterprise Networks (SENs). Where there is not a SEN we will work with the local support organisations and TSIs to understand how we can best serve them from a national perspective including regular dialogue, training sessions and a plan to direct additional resource locally.

We want to allay any concerns about the networks going forward and how their values and approach will continue to be recognised and developed in the future. We can assure you that we will prioritise and engage with grassroots social enterprises, rural groups, social firms and community-led work in deprived urban communities to ensure that they are supported. Their values, as well as others within the sector, all have a place within this new entity.