This week we’ve been reading the Scottish Government’s Enterprise and Skills Review Phase 2 reports.
The Review is looking at how the enterprise and skills support delivered by Scotland’s public agencies should be improved to better meet users’ needs. It aims to:
- Improve Scotland’s economic performance
- Create a simpler and more coherent support system
The Review will introduce several key changes to the current support landscape, including:
- A new Strategic Board that will oversee agency activities, set shared priorities and monitor performance
- A new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland, to meet the distinct economic needs of the region and its communities
There are a number of areas of the Review that are relevant for social enterprise:
An emphasis on promoting inclusive economic growth
Inclusive growth means improved economic performance that ensures all of Scotland’s regions and communities thrive. This is what social enterprises deliver by trading for the common good. The Review’s emphasis on promoting inclusive economic growth gives the social enterprise sector an opportunity to make sure its contribution is recognised and its views are heard on how support can be improved to better meet social enterprises’ needs.
A commitment to a stronger role for the private and third sectors in shaping the future support system
In the first part of the Review, businesses called for a stronger role in shaping the support they receive. The Review appears to have recognised that this is needed and in its Phase 2 reports the Scottish Government commits to greater involvement of the private and third sectors – although it provides limited detail on how this will be achieved in practice and seems to give the private sector higher priority.
A specific focus on social enterprise as an area for early action for improved business support
The Review’s Phase 2 report on the Enterprise and Business Support project includes social enterprise as one of three specific support themes where the Scottish Government will take early action. This is encouraging on paper, although it does not commit to any new action as the Scottish Government’s ten-year Social Enterprise Strategy and first action plan, Building A Sustainable Social Enterprise Sector In Scotland:2017-20, feature commitments to support social enterprises as businesses. We need to make sure that the Review does not sideline its commitment to social enterprise because it is seen as being covered elsewhere.
The new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland
A new enterprise agency for the South of Scotland is intended to ensure that support is tailored to its distinct challenges and opportunities. It will cover the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway local authority areas and be fully operational from 2020. The reason for the extended timescales is that new legislation will need to be introduced to bring it into effect, which will take place in 2018. The Review talks about a role for the enterprise agency in “building and strengthening communities with joined up economic and community support.” We hope that this means that the agency will have a formal remit to support social enterprise, like Highlands and Islands Enterprise does today.
Social Enterprise Scotland will engage with the Scottish Government in the coming months to make sure that the Enterprise and Skills Review results in positive change for the social enterprise sector.