State of the Sector Report – COVID-19 and the impact on Social Enterprise in Scotland (May 2021)

Posted: 18 May 2021, in News

Download our new State of the Sector Report.

Where are we now with social enterprise recovery from COVID-19? What are social enterprises saying about the challenges they face and their outlook for the months ahead? This is a question we’re often asked and a year after the start of the pandemic and its successive lockdowns, it is a critical issue for our sector to analyse and discuss if we want to place social enterprises at the heart of recovery efforts.

We are sharing this new report as an update to our last State of the Sector Report published in August 2020 to consolidate our findings following what we could call “the COVID-19 year” for social enterprises. We would like to thank the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) for sharing their survey data with us and the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde for supporting us with the data analysis.

As we reflect on the year 2020/2021, we want to consider the impact and lessons learnt and the role social enterprises must play in recovery efforts to “build back better.” There is no doubt there will be a legacy from the past year, both positive and negative, and that if some social enterprises are recovering, others will have not survived the crisis.

While most social enterprises in Scotland are registered charities, many are not. Therefore, in addition to the OSCR data set analysis, as with our previous report, we have also tried to bring in the perspectives of Community Interest Companies (CICs) and other social enterprise models, who were not respondents to the OSCR survey. We have also included anecdotal and phone call evidence collected during conversations with Social Enterprise Scotland members in the first quarter of 2021. 

We hope you will find this report insightful and share it with peers and colleagues. We also welcome your thoughts and views on the picture the data tells us about where we are. Please get in touch and let us know your observations and suggestions to inform where we might we go next with our research and our policy efforts.

We believe that social enterprises must increasingly take centre stage in our local communities. It is essential for our sector to learn the lessons of the past year in order to “build back better” for a green recovery and to support a wellbeing economy that works for everyone. 

We now have a new Parliament and many new MSPs to engage with. We look forward to working with our members and partners this year to ensure that we achieve the very best policy environment in order to help social enterprises recover and thrive.

Chris Martin, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, said:

It was a pleasure to work with The Fraser of Allander Institute and OSCR to enable us to publish this State of the Sector report. The data indicates that optimism has increased since the last survey in May. Many reasons will have affected this, including the innovation and flex of social enterprises, the various funds that were available and the pace of the vaccination programme which has expedited the easing of lockdown restrictions thus allowing social enterprises greater freedom to trade. However, there are some sectors where trading conditions are still harsh suggesting that the recovery remains fragile and policy action may still be required to ensure that it is sustainable. We will continue to advocate for all social enterprises to encourage a policy landscape that supports everyone to thrive to ensure we build back better and fairer in the recovery from the pandemic.”

State of the Sector Report – Contents

Background and introduction

Part one – Sector update analysis
a. Financial analysis
b. Organisational type
c. Operational impacts
d. Trading activity

Part two – Support and funding
What are people asking for?
a. Funding support
b. Non-funding support

Part three – Moving forward
a. Identified gaps and risks
b. Lessons learnt
c. Sector route to recovery

Download our new State of the Sector Report.