Social enterprise should lead a post-lockdown, post-election recovery

Posted: 05 March 2021, in News

As Scotland moves on from lockdown the focus will start to shift to recovery and adaptation.

This is a recovery for individuals, families, businesses and indeed the whole country but it also means seeking to do things differently going forward.

Our economy and society have gone through huge upheaval and we need to decide exactly how we do ‘build back better’. What needs to change in our economy? How can people be better supported in order to thrive?  

Over the past year social enterprises and voluntary and community groups have certainly stepped up to support the most vulnerable and maintain local economies. 

This has included many services, like community food provision, social housing, mental health support, digital services and much more.

We need to learn from what has happened over the course of the year, about what worked and what didn’t and how we can harness this energy to take us forward.

In a Holyrood election year we also need to ramp up awareness-raising about the many new and creative policy opportunities and possibilities.

Social Enterprise Scotland is keen to work with all political parties and politicians at both local and national level, in order to achieve common aims. 

This includes evidencing the strong social and economic impacts of our diverse social enterprise community and continuing to demonstrate social enterprise value to policy-makers. 

While we have the national Social Enterprise Strategy and Action Plan, to drive forward social enterprise development on different levels, what else can government and social enterprises do in addition to this?

Learning from the data from the upcoming Social Enterprise Census, from evidence gathered by Social Enterprise Scotland and others – plus the ideas highlighted at our social enterprise policy group in The Scottish Parliament – we can build a more complete picture.

We must ensure that ordinary people and politicians learn about some of the most credible economic solutions like social enterprise, community land ownership and community wealth building. 

This election is also an ideal time to consider things that may not have been politically possible before. What about Universal Basic Income, a true circular economy, a shorter working week and boosting the real living wage in every sector and community?

These are all relatively straightforward policies and easy to explain, with the potential to have a dramatically positive effect on people’s everyday lives. 

As we look towards a post-lockdown, post-election recovery we need to consider these approaches instead of returning to business-as-usual. 

There’s been a big upheaval for all of us and, understandably, there’s now a desire to go back to “normal”. However, supporting the re-opening of businesses is one thing but going back to poverty and unemployment is not the normal we want.

We understand there’s a need to work in close partnership with other sectors to achieve the better society we want, with the mainstream business community, with public sector bodies and with third sector organisations. 

Whichever kind of parliament exists after the election on 6 May we’re ready to champion social enterprise solutions to our most pressing social problems, to help build a better Scotland for everyone.

Duncan Thorp, Social Enterprise Scotland