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Social Enterprise Must be at the Heart of Wellbeing Economy

 As we work towards the aims of our new strategy to 2030, SIS Chief Executive Alastair Davis has spoken with The Times to explain the need for social enterprises to take a key role in Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19 and the shift to a wellbeing economy. Read the full article below.

Alastair Davis

The Covid-19 pandemic is exposing the inequalities of our global economic system, and threatening progress in some of the big social and environmental issues of our time. Scotland is far from immune. As public spending is squeezed, unemployment rises and financial hardship increases, our most disadvantaged communities will inevitably be the hardest hit.

The past four months have revealed what really matters and have highlighted the need for an economy that strives to address more than GDP. We now need an economy which acknowledges its influence and impact at a community level (which we have truly seen the value of in recent times) and how supporting communities to thrive from the ground up can contribute to improved societal wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and economic success.

The Scottish government’s commitment towards building an economy based on wellbeing rather than solely on wealth creation has been a welcome move, and one that sets our nation on a positive path. The report from the government’s independent advisory group on economic recovery places Scotland’s third sector at the heart of planning for recovery and renewal, recognising its critical contribution to the goal of a wellbeing economy.

However, one important factor has been overlooked. Social enterprise should and must play a central role in Scotland’s recovery, if we are to create an economy which values wellbeing alongside GDP.

It is our social innovators and social entrepreneurs who can co-create and design solutions to some of our big social issues, from energy affordability and food sustainability to climate change and public health. We now need policies to underpin the overall strategic aims and help us move from resilience to recovery. Policy support could take many forms including, for example, reform of business rates and planning, further advancement of community right to buy, stimulation of social investment to create more capital supply, and the further development of supply chain procurement to support social enterprise suppliers.

Communities and social enterprises must be empowered to take a leading role to build an economy where social entrepreneurs, businesses, consumers, investors and government are aligned and focused on delivering impactful actions and meaningful outcomes; an economy where all businesses are a force for good and consumers are empowered to live sustainably and use their purchasing power for positive change.