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Manifesto review – What does the Welsh Labour manifesto mean for social enterprise?

This May sees the Senedd elections in Wales. As political parties publish their manifestos, we will look at each manifesto in turn and consider what they mean for the sector in Wales.

By Ceri-Anne Fidler Jones · April 29, 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. 

Welsh Labour’s manifesto is available here.  Here are some of the key points for social enterprises in Wales. 

On jobs and skills, proposals include building on existing foundational economy work to grow local economies.  This would include a Backing Local Firms Fund to support local businesses.  This approach would appear beneficial to Welsh social enterprises, many of whom also operate in the foundational economy.  We believe it would be beneficial for the sector to ensure that a proportion of the proposed Fund be earmarked for social enterprises to ensure that they can access it.   

The manifesto also pledges to provide greater support for worker buyouts and, with the cooperative sector seek to double the number of employee-owned businesses.  Support to grow the worker owned co-operative sector in Wales is welcomed and we would look forward to seeing more detail on the nature of the support proposed. 

On funding, the manifesto proposes a £500m Wales Flexible Investment Fund to support economic recovery and expand the Development Bank of Wales’ patient capital funds toprovide long-term lending to small and medium sized enterprises, entrepreneurs and start-ups.  Our manifesto called for further consideration of patient capital.  To maximise its potential, we would like any such future funding to consider the specific needs of the sector and would welcome the opportunity to work with any party in government to design and develop funding that is fit for the sector.  We also welcome the proposed creation of a Community Bank of as this could help meet the needs of social enterprises in towns and villages no longer served by high street banks. 

On building a stronger green economy, the manifesto proposes supporting innovative new social enterprise schemes such as bike maintenance repair cafes and bike recycling schemes.  This is welcome but we would argue that there is a bigger role for social enterprise to play in developing a just green economy.  Social enterprises value the environment just as much as people and profit and can lead the way in tackling climate change. Many operate environmental enterprises in sectors such as renewable energy, zero waste, food, biodiversity and land management.  They are also ideally placed to play a key role in helping with training and skills development in local communities as part of a just green transition. 

Welsh Labour’s manifesto proposes a National Social Care Framework.  The remit of the Framework would include a more balanced care market between public, voluntary, and private providers.  Social enterprises and co-operatives already deliver values-based and people led care services across Wales. Proposals to rebalance the market which would provide more opportunities for social enterprise and co-operatives to deliver care would be welcome but we would like to see the sector fully consulted in the design and implementation of a National Social Care Framework. 

The manifesto proposes building 20,000 new, low carbon social homes for rent. 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.  Welsh Labour also proposes support for cooperative housing, community-led initiatives, and community land trusts. 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.