Cross-Party Group on Social Enterprise DT

5th meeting of the Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Social Enterprise in The Scottish Parliament

Scotland’s national policy forum for social enterprise


Wednesday 4 December, 13:00 to 14:35, Committee Room 2, The Scottish Parliament

Tom Arthur MSP, Scottish National Party (SNP), Convener

Rachael Hamilton MSP, Scottish Conservatives and Andy Wightman MSP, Scottish Greens, Joint Vice Conveners

Secretariat provided by Duncan Thorp, Social Enterprise Scotland

Scotland’s next Action Plan for Social Enterprise 2020-23: Emerging themes, top priorities

This meeting will discuss the emerging themes that are coming out of local consultation events taking place across Scotland.

The meeting is also a chance for you to get your voice heard and feed into the consultation process!

What do we now need to do to take social enterprise forward? What about private sector opportunities? Social investment? Young entrepreneurs? Skills and training? Local authorities? Public awareness? What can government and the social enterprise community do to boost the growth and development of social enterprise?

Please read the previous Action Plan and the Social Enterprise Strategy for Scotland before the meeting.

Also respond to and share the online consultation now:

Share your views about the CPG on Twitter now and on the day using: #SocEntCPG


12:45 Arrival at The Scottish Parliament (please arrive no later than 12:45, to get through security and be taken to the room – we can’t guarantee entry after the start time)

13:00 Lunch and networking.

13:15 Introduction by CPG Convener, Tom Arthur MSP.

13:20 Emerging themes from the local consultation events – Kim Wallace, Senscot.

13:30 What should be in the next Action Plan: Views from social entrepreneurs –  Jonny Kinross, Grassmarket Community Project, Michelle Ferguson, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company and Reeni Kennedy-Boyle, Fyne Futures.

14:00 What should be in the next Action Plan – share your views.

14:30 Any other business and general questions about the CPG.

14:35 Meeting ends.

If you need further information or have questions please email:

Report from the 5th meeting of the Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Social Enterprise in The Scottish Parliament

Tom Arthur MSP, Convener, welcomed attendees and informed them that he had submitted a new Motion about Social Enterprise Awards 2019 in The Scottish Parliament. Minutes from the last meeting were proposed by Daniel Fisher, Greyfriars Charteris Centre and seconded by Alex Stobart, Mydex CIC. Tom Arthur MSP introduced our three speakers [Reeni Kennedy-Boyle, Fyne Futures could not make the meeting].

Kim Wallace, Senscot:

Since the summer we’ve been carrying our consultation events for the next Action Plan. There was also a SWOT analysis at The Scottish Government reference group and feedback from the sub-group of social enterprises and intermediaries. Local events held in Angus, Argyll, Borders, D & G, Edinburgh, East Lothian Joint Thematic, Forth Valley, Glasgow and Inverness. West Lothian, Moray and Pan-Ayrshire planned. Plus Senscot conference session, Social Value Lab national survey and Social Value Lab engagement with government and enterprise agencies.

People told us that they wanted: transparency – decision-making process needs to clear, open and transparent, equality of access to funding via Action Plan, additionality  – add value/ be complimentary to what’s already happening, communications strategy  is required to support promotion/implementation, alignment with NPF and other Govt policy areas inc. regeneration, justice, health, employability, circular economy, rural etc. Finance – Smarter use of money – pulling budgets e.g. ESF. Subsidiarity – local decision-making and delivery – wherever possible. There is concern that the Action Plan is being done to frontline SEs not done with them. Co-production – sector-led, evidence informed via Census etc. Bottom-up not top-down. Some initiatives feel imposed.

Stimulating social enterprise: Enhance Peer Support across localities/market areas/specialisms– came up strongly in first Action Plan and since (knowledge transfer/time bank idea?). Action Plan committed to ‘strengthen and extend SENs’ – it was not delivered. Attract and support young people in communities. More local strategies (thus far 7 and  3-4 more in development) – local strategies are aligned to national strategy but need better connectivity back down the way. Social enterprise champion in every local authority (e.g. NAC, SELAG) linking with SENs. Mentoring by established SEs to start-ups. Direct Investment to frontline SEs – sustainable & flexible approach to funding.

Developing stronger organisations: Access to shared services (ICT, HR, Finance), Multi-year funding – direct investment for running costs/overheads, showcase successes, share learning, inc. failure. Need higher level of risk capital (underwrite small loans). Raising the Profile Campaign; strong, clear, consistent key messages; national level aligned to local implementation/resource. Invest in workforce, invest in ‘collective leadership’ not just social entrepreneur and key challenges and opportunities should be identified, use the census to help shape strategy and actions.

Market opportunities: Continuous improvements on buyer & supplier sides regarding access to public markets. Commitment to greater use/weighting of CBCs/supply chain. More use of Reserved contracts (for supported businesses). Public sector facing support with commissioners/procurement across public sector to complement P4P sector facing support. RSLs linking up with more SEs and using their significant assets. More investment in new approaches: PSPs and PSPPs. More and flexible R&D investment pot across all priority themes.

Jonny Kinross, Grassmarket Community Project:

We engage young people furthest from the job market, we take a social firms approach. “Serving the most excluded” in the Action Plan. Transparency and the Social Enterprise Code and asset lock must be at the centre. Local communities need long-term resources locked in. Support the community wealth building agenda. Money, resources and skills must stay in the community. Procurement should be for asset locked, look more carefully at organisations before awarding contracts. Most social enterprises are very small, the next Action Plan must recognise this. Leadership and people with lived experience must be at the centre. The work of SENs has been very important. We need to share resources e.g. in HR etc. This would ensure a more powerful impact. Work with those organisations that already exist – don’t parachute into a community.

Michelle Ferguson, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company:

We’re a slightly different model as we’re part of a charity and a new entrant to the Scottish market. In partnership with other agencies, both military and charity, we’ve future proofed our sustainability. We have a ‘profit for purpose’ approach, we’re very business focused and not reliant on grants. The ‘Buy Social’ standard is something we talk about a lot. Those we work with, particularly those working internationally, need a standard to find other social enterprises. Local government driving prices down is an issue. Private sector is different, they are focused on quality etc. The message to businesses must be ‘buy social’. Our service users are valued and we get the work done because of our people, we change the lives of disabled veterans. How can we get the most out of these relationships with commercial companies? How do we link ISO standards with the fair work policy agenda? We’ve accessed Just Enterprise, we pay the Scottish Living Wage and we have people with disabilities on our committee. We’ve embedded everything in the organisation and planned for growth, with plans for a £1m turnover. The Scottish Government supported business framework should allow asset locked social enterprises on to the forum. Hard work to get on to frameworks. We have the support of a big charity but others don’t have that. Community Benefit Clauses are important, we need percentage targets for public sector contracts. Social enterprise to social enterprise support – everyone wants to do this. Social enterprises deserve business not just donations.

Questions and discussion with the audience

Jamie Palmer, EY Foundation:

Commitments to buying social are good. Issue of payment terms in procurement – 90 days. There was a case of an organisation with a £1.8bn turnover and a big spend but couldn’t find a social enterprise to deliver the work.

Michelle Ferguson, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company:

Ask and a social enterprise will deliver it. We’re solutions-focused. Look at the long-term unemployed in a community – a private sector organisation could help set up a social enterprise with social enterprise and public sector support – have the discussion.

Claire Pattullo, Edinburgh Social Enterprise:

We’re having procurement and supply chain conversations. Though we need to help the sector build their capacity. Biggest barrier in Edinburgh is how to respond to market opportunities.

Jonny Kinross, Grassmarket Community Project:

Long lead in times for contracts not always possible e.g. we only had 6 weeks notice for St James Centre. We also don’t get enough technical expertise in to help with bidding. We need a framework to help people become self-employed social entrepreneurs to take up contracts.

Claire Pattullo, Edinburgh Social Enterprise:

We should be working with social entrepreneurs now to identify future opportunities. We can also share risk with partners.

Alex Stobart, Mydex Data Services CIC:

The Open Government partnership strand 3 on open data has information on procurement. Engage with this programme and work with local authorities.

Michelle Ferguson, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company:

New guidelines mean that local authorities will now have to start reporting on how they engage with social enterprises etc.

Sophie Unwin, Remade Network:

We need to connect the spend of local authorities with social enterprises.

Richard Moore, Pilotlight:

We help companies with strategic planning. We need to explain to big businesses what social enterprise can do. We need to explain social enterprise language to the private sector, build understanding at the beginning. There’s a huge gap in understanding.

Tom Arthur MSP:

It’s an issue that has been raised at another CPG. Iceland is publishing its first well-being economy plan. The value of well-being is intrinsic to social enterprise. This must also feed down from government to local authorities.

Kim Wallace, Senscot:

We also had two people email in questions who couldn’t be here today. Reeni Kennedy Boyle says that we need to build capability of the sector by working with the private sector and we need investment in Public Social Partnerships to deliver policies such as DRS and the circular economy through collaborative working. Also ensuring sustainable procurement policies are not just tick box exercises with nothing more than a paragraph to community benefit. Also Gregory Kinsman-Chauvet of Bike for Good said that The Scottish Government have pledged they would lead the way in using the global Sustainable Development Goals so shouldn’t this be the main focus of the action plan?      

[At this point Tom Arthur MSP left the meeting and Andy Wightman MSP, CPG Vice Chair, took over as Chair of the meeting] 

Mike Pretious, Queen Margaret University:

In terms of the Sustainable Development Goals social enterprise can be regarded as a manifestation of social and environmental issues. We’re talking to students about all of this.

Graeme Ferguson, Fife Council:

We’re having conversations with the procurement team to ensure social enterprises are part of supply chains and using community benefits. Making social enterprise the first place to go to and not an ‘add on’. Not easy for private sector to find local relevant social enterprises. Councils can support SENs [Social Enterprise Networks] better. We need streamlined, simpler procurement. Board capacity in social enterprises is an issue i.e. skills development and risk, leadership and mentoring. We’re getting there.

Andy Wightman MSP:

What is the scale of your procurement in terms of social enterprise?

Graeme Ferguson, Fife Council:

About 1% or 2% of budget spent on social enterprises. Most Council spend is big construction companies. Social enterprises not big enough for that type of work. We could split contracts into smaller parts. We could also improve social enterprise bidding skills, it takes time and cost for social enterprises to bid.

Jennifer Robertson, CVS Falkirk:

No one has mentioned the role of TSIs [Third Sector Interfaces, single bodies seeking to represent and develop third sector organisations in each of the 32 local authority areas]. We don’t have a Social Enterprise Network in every area. In Falkirk we work with the SEN and the TSI. There are a lot of small social enterprises. Improvements are needed but Councils need to engage better with them.

Kim Wallace, Senscot:

Sorry for not mentioning TSIs, all the local consultation events for the Action Plan have involved TSIs.

Jamie Palmer, EY Foundation:

What pressure could you put on e.g. a construction company to spend with social enterprises?

Graeme Ferguson, Fife Council:

It’s a policy decision to be made regarding Community Benefit Clauses in contracts. We already encourage companies to spend locally etc. The debate is currently happening with elected members.

Helene van der Ploeg, The Broomhouse Centre:

We have knowledge regarding food and local authority procurement. We used the framework for the procurement process. The weighting for community benefits is not properly weighted to help social enterprises.

Michelle Ferguson, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company:

Once on the framework the benefits are outstanding but you must perform well on price, quality etc. More local authorities are beginning to use us. Could Scotland Excel [procurement service for local authorities] have a social enterprise framework? We always make it simple for local authorities.

Yvonne McBride, Partnership for Procurement:

The Ready for Business third sector procurement register exists plus Edinburgh SEN and other SENs have directories and also Public Contracts Scotland – there are ways to find suppliers. You can pick up the phone to us too.

Jonny Kinross, Grassmarket Community Project:

Procurement is intimidating and difficult, particularly for small social enterprises. Let’s look at who is already doing good in the community – invest in them and listen to them first. They’re sometimes pushed aside by large providers. We can avoid procurement more – there are alternatives.

Claire Pattullo, Edinburgh Social Enterprise:

Increase investment in SENs. Services delivered better by local SENs or TSIs where there is no SEN. We have programmes ready to go around e.g. young people and mentoring and with the expertise but can’t deliver through lack of resource. Edinburgh is one of the most resourced in Scotland but still lack money.

Graeme Ferguson, Fife Council:

Our SEN is funded by business and employment team in the Council, no TSI funding. TSI support is not equal for social enterprise across the country. Support should be through the SEN not the local authority. SENs are critical – give them funding.


Registered delegates

First Name Last Name Organisation
Tom Arthur MSP, The Scottish Parliament
Andy Wightman MSP, The Scottish Parliament
Graham Branscombe East Dunbartonshire Voluntary action
Elizabeth Docherty Glasgow Social Enterprise Network
Ellen Archibald North Lanarkshire Council
Daniel Fisher Greyfriars Charteris Centre
Helene van der Ploeg The Broomhouse Centre t/a Space
Hannah Justad Glasgow Connected Arts Network
Deborah J Crozier A Positive Start CIC
Amanda Taylor Taylor Nisbet
Pam Maxwell Lead Scotland
Diane Cameron West Lothian Social Enterprise Network
Yvonne McBride Partnership for Procurement
Duncan Thorp Social Enterprise Scotland
Christopher Martin Corporate Virtue
Kate Walshaw Social Enterprise Scotland
Tom Henderson North Ayrshire Council
Scott Rogers Leonard Cheshire
Garry Byars Sunshine Gallery
Rosie McLoughlin VOCAL
Sophie Unwin Remade Network
Andrew Farquharson The Weel Consultancy, CIC
Sara Hawkins Projekt 42
Miles Weaver Edinburgh Napier University Business School
Katherine Jenkins The Royal Bank of Scotland
Susan McGhee Flexible Childcare Services Scotland
Jennifer Robertson CVS Falkirk
Sean Gray Social Enterprise Scotland
Mike Pretious QMU
Kieran Daly Social Investment Scotland
Siobhan Hencher The Wellbeing Circke
Lynzi Leroy Design Exchange (Scotland) CIC
Fiona Maclean The wellbeing circle
John Halliday Community Renewal Trust and Caledonia Cremation
Alex Stobart Mydex Data Services CIC
Jamie Palmer EY Foundation
Henryk Kujawa The Town Centre
Robert Pembleton Mr
Dan Rous Greyfriars Charteris Centre
Andrew Crozier Just Cycle ltd
Dodie Piddock Starting Step
Petra Biberbach PAS
David McGrath Fife Voluntary Action
Megan Veronesi Firstport
Callum Macdonald Royal Blind and Scottish War Blinded
Mary Sinclair Senscot
Alison Parker Remade Network
Sarah Cameron Senscot
Neil Hay Cyrenians
Tracy Thomson Royal Bank of Scotland
Gillian Kirton Scottish Enterprise
Paul Morris Glasgow City Council
Anika Braun Projekt 42
Kim Wallace Senscot
Jonny Kinross Grassmarket Community Project
Michelle Ferguson Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company
Chris Raftery The Scottish Government