Manifesto review – What does the Plaid Cymru manifeso mean for social enterprise?

This May sees the Senedd elections in Wales. The Social Enterprise Stakeholder Group will be looking at each party manifesto and asking what it means for the sector in Wales.

By Ceri-Anne Fidler Jones · 27 April 2021

See this page in: Cymraeg

This May sees the Senedd elections in Wales.  The Social Enterprise Stakeholder Group’s manifesto outlined how the next Welsh Government can support the social enterprise sector to realise its potential and deliver a fairer, more inclusive and sustainable economy.  As political parties begin to publish their manifestos, we will look at each manifesto in turn and consider what they mean for the sector in Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s 2021 manifesto is available here.  Here are some of the key points for social enterprises in Wales.

Key to Plaid’s manifesto is a pledge to develop a Smarter Economy for Wales through expanding, supporting, and protecting domestic businesses.  They are pledging to base an alternative economic strategy on a Local First principle, increasing Welsh firms’ share of contracts from 52 to 75 per cent of the public procurement budget. It includes a Welsh model of local public procurement built on the foundational economy and using social procurement to drive forward other objectives including the growth of co-operative businesses. This approach would seem beneficial to Welsh social enterprises, many of whom also operate in the foundational economy.  We believe that guidance for public bodies and others on increasing local spend should be accompanied by guidance and support for social enterprises to help them access these opportunities.  There also needs to be specialist business support for social enterprises to develop and grow to enable the sector to fully realise its potential and fully play its part developing a locally owned economy.  It’s unclear from the manifesto the nature of business support that Plaid might offer.

Plaid Cymru is also pledging a £6 billion programme of investment to support Wales’ ongoing economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.  This includes £2bn extra spending on the foundational economy over the course of the next five-year term of Government.  As we’ve previously blogged, social enterprises make up an important part of the foundational economy.  Plaid’s investment plans also include retrofitting homes to high environmental standards and building new social homes.  While the manifesto does not include details of the delivery, we’d like to see social enterprises included in the supply chains and the delivery of such projects.

As part of their plans to meet all of Wales’ energy demands entirely from renewables by 2035, Plaid’s investment plans include growing Welsh ownership of the renewables sector.  This should be an opportunity for community based social enterprises in that sector.

The manifesto proposes new Community and Town Councils with an economic development role in promoting local business start-ups, with the manifesto specifically referencing social enterprises and co-operatives.  This is welcome but we believe specialist business advice for the social enterprise sector is essential and any support through Community and Town Councils should reflect this.

The manifesto pledges a development agency for the Arfor region, with some interesting proposals for social enterprises.  It includes support for localised and community-owned energy schemes in this area.  It also outlines support for Welsh-speakers in setting up and developing business enterprises, including co-operative and social enterprises, and encouraging them to run those businesses through the medium of Welsh.  In developing this scheme, a Plaid Cymru government could use the learning from example such as Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog, where local social enterprises joined together to form a network under the banner of a community company, with the aim of to promoting the environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the area.

Finally, Plaid’s manifesto proposes to support a range of innovative models for developing affordable housing including small housing co-operatives.  The proposals to strengthen this sector of the co-operative economy in Wales are welcome and we believe these should be backed up through specialist advice and support for community-led and co-operative housing.