Marco Benini
19 June 2013


Scotland background
Scotland is the northernmost of the four nations which form the United Kingdom and it has 5,3 million inhabitants, standing to 2011 Census. There are around 44000 social economy organizations currently operating in the region, as emerges from the most recent data.
A research issued by Department of Trade and Industry suggests that there are around 1000 social enterprises among the social enterprises. Around 20% of these organizations, manage to have an annual income of £360 million, thus showing a great ability both to earn resources for the community and to create workplaces for disadvantaged categories. In fact, the social economy in Scotland is producing 4% of the region’s total GDP and it provides around 100.000 work places.
In 2003, the Scottish government promoted a review of the Scottish executive policies in order to foster the development of social economy. In 2004 it was issued a funding program called Futurebuilders Scotland, born from the purpose of stimulating the debate around the role of social economic in developing better public services, and with the objective of helping the economical sustainable development of the region.
The workgroup of Futurebuilders made clearly emerge that social businesses can be particularly effective in working with most disadvantaged people, thus helping in closing the opportunity gap and improving social equality, thus aiding the achievement of the social sustainability objectives of the government. It was also stressed that the sector must be developed in terms of services, finance and sustainability, through policies aimed at giving a better framework to social economy on these issue.
The first themes that need to be developed in the region is public sector procurement. This important public function would help the development of the sector by acting as a guide for the economic behavior of procurers, while increasing the added value generate by social economy. The second objective is to foster partnership and jointed planning, through a diffusion of local social economy partnerships linked into wider community planning.
As regards the financial support, there are actually many funds that are specifically dedicated to social businesses. The most important are Futurebuilders Investment Fund, Seedcorn Fund, Learning Fund and Social Investment Scotland Loan Finance. These are the three fields of political action to push forward, since the sector has already shown is central role in improving the social situation of the communities and it still has a huge potential for growth.