Giving social businesses a voice in the rebuild/recover agenda

Dr Sarah Evans, Independent Policy and Research Advisor for the social business sector, describes the work being done to ensure that co-operatives and social businesses play a central role in the re-building of Wales.

See this page in: Cymraeg

The effects of the pandemic on co-operatives and the wider social enterprise sector have varied significantly. Many will have hopefully been able to access the Economic Resilience Funding or the Third Sector resilience fund that have been available to Welsh business, and some may have needed to utilise the furlough scheme.

In Wales there are a number of support agencies that work with the social enterprise sector. As well as the Wales Co-operative Centre, organisations such as UnLtd, Social Firms Wales, Development Trusts Association Wales and the WCVA also support the sector. Together with Welsh Government, these organisations form a Social Enterprise Stakeholder Group which acts as a unified voice for the sector in Wales.

Throughout this period of uncertainty, these social enterprise support agencies have been in close contact with many of their members and clients. They have also reviewed the impact of the pandemic across the sector and published a report COVID-19 and the impact on social enterprise in Wales.

As Wales begins to emerge from the lockdown phase of the pandemic, social businesses will be at many different stages. Some may be opening again after months of closure; some will have amended working practices and carried on producing essential supplies; whilst others may have adapted and diversified services to allow them to operate.

We do not know the full impact of the pandemic on co-operatives and the social enterprise sector, however COVID-19 has accelerated the need to change and increased the motivation of people and communities to rebuild things differently. This change of approach could result in opportunities for the sector in the future.

As Wales moves forward, we are hearing terms such as ‘Build back Better’ being discussed within political circles. The social enterprise support agencies are working hard to ensure that the sector has a voice in the rebuild/recover agenda.

In the next month the Social Enterprise Stakeholder Group will be launching a Vision and Action Plan for the sector. The aim of the document is to provide a clear vision of the potential of social enterprises to contribute to the lives and livelihoods of people in Wales and address the climate crisis. It also sets out a progressive action plan to take the sector forward, build new and alternative local economic models, solutions and ownership and ensure it achieves its full potential within Wales. We recognise the importance of such a plan at this critical time.

This document is essential as we move forward and we will be using it as a tool to lobby Government, as well as regional and local funders, to recognise what the social enterprise sector can offer as we look to the future.

This blog is published as part of a series for Co-operatives Fortnight 2020. Let’s build back better together. #KeepCooperating

Dr Sarah Evans

 

“As Wales moves forward, we are hearing terms such as ‘Build back Better’ being discussed within political circles. The social enterprise support agencies are working hard to ensure that the sector has a voice in the rebuild/recover agenda.”

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