Cities, the social economy and inclusive growth

Cities, the social economy and inclusive growth
Joesph Rowntree Foundation, by Ian Vickers, Andrea Westall, Roger Spear, Geraldine Brennan and Stephen Syrett
21.06.17

 

This report examines the role of the social economy in bringing about inclusive growth that generates more and better jobs in UK cities, particularly for people who are in – or at risk of – poverty. 

 

The report finds that:

 

The social economy has been shown to promote inclusive growth by creating jobs, strengthening skills and employability; building diversified local economies; and contributing to wider economic and institutional transformation.

 

Successful social economy development often arises from an enabling context, or social economy ‘ecosystem’ of various elements of support provision and a high level of collaboration between actors, both within the social economy and the public and private sectors.

 

The social economy constitutes a range of organisations that have a core social mission, including social and community enterprises; voluntary and community sector organisations; housing associations; co-operatives and mutuals; informal self-help initiatives; social finance and support providers; and alternative business models.

 

The report develops several recommendations for how UK cities can engage the social economy to lead an inclusive growth agenda.

 

The project was undertaken by a team at Middlesex University and The Open University.

 

Key points

 

• The social economy constitutes a range of organisations that have a core social mission, different
levels of participative and democratic control by members, and use financial surpluses or profits
primarily to achieve their social missions. These include social and community enterprise; voluntary
and community sector organisations; housing associations; co-operatives and mutuals; informal
self-help initiatives; social finance and support providers; and alternative business models.

 

• The social economy accounts for about 6.5% of European employment. In some countries, such as
Sweden, Belgium, Italy, France and the Netherlands, it accounts for between 9% and 11.2%. In the UK,
the contribution to employment is relatively low at 5.6%, mostly from the voluntary and community
sector (82%). Yet, these data are likely to underestimate the true size of the social economy.

 

• Relative to comparable countries in Europe, the UK appears to have a strong voluntary and
community sector and a growing social enterprise sector, but fewer organisations with alternative
governance models, such as co-operatives, or employee-owned businesses.

 

• There are three broad clusters of activity whereby the social economy has been shown to promote
inclusive growth: (1) Creating jobs, strengthening skills and employability; (2) Building diversified local economies; (3) Contributing to wider economic and institutional transformation.

 

• Successful social economy development often arises from an enabling context, or social economy
‘ecosystem’ of various elements of support provision and a high level of collaboration between actors, both within the social economy and the public and private sectors.

 

 

Read full report here