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Social Economy Scotland

Partnership information


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 The Scottish Government has recognised the important role which social economy organisations play in supporting the regeneration of communities, particularly in disadvantaged areas.  Although there has been significant growth in the sector in Scotland over the past five years, there is a clear need to provide specialist business support to enable the sector to enter new markets and increase their capacity to deliver public services, thereby increasing their sustainability.  Particular issues for the social economy concern:
1.  Organisational / sectoral issues
  • A  need to enhance capacity and entrepreneurial drive to compete with other potential providers of public services
  • A need to demonstrate and promote the social/community benefits that contracting with social economy providers can provide
  • A weak financial infrastructure, lack of stability in income streams and an over reliance on short-term grant funding
  • Lack of clarity concerning the roles of the various support agencies
2.  Workforce issues
  • High proportion of part-time /temporary and short-term contracts /lack of job security
  • Lack of career paths and development opportunities; particularly within small to medium sized organisations and for women moving into senior management
  • Lack of skills/ qualifications in specific growth sectors and skills gaps in management competencies
  • Disabled staff, black and ethnic minority staff tend to be employed in specific sub-sectors such as social welfare/disability and equality and law respectively  
3.  Future workforce (including volunteers)
  •  Lack of awareness of employment opportunities in the sector
  • Volunteering is undervalued as a route into the sector and into employment
  • Unemployed, long term sick, disabled, people on lowest incomes and from ethnic minorities are under-represented in volunteering

Strategic aims

Through partnership working and transnational cooperation, Social Economy Scotland has been supporting the social economy to increase its role in the delivery of innovative, high quality services thereby enhancing it s contribution to community regeneration, sustainable economic development and labour market integration in Scotland 


  • Growing organisations to support small to medium sized social economy organisations with aspirations to reduce grant dependency, enhance sustainability, create new jobs and develop new products and services to better meet the needs of their communities of place and interest.
  • Developing People to support the development of skills and professionalism in the sector, in order to develop the social economy’s role on labour market integration.
  • Promoting culture change to encourage dialogue between public agencies and representatives of the social economy (at National, UK and European levels), which fosters mutual understanding and promotes good practice in partnership working.

Social Economy Scotland has been harnessing the knowledge, expertise, and resources to address some of these key barriers to growth, thus enabling the social economy to improve the quality of jobs, tackle labour market disadvantage more effectively and create a more sustainable social economy sector.

Target Groups

Strengthening the social economy reaches many groups of disadvantaged people including unemployed, employed, migrants, people with disabilities, BME groups. 



Round 1 to Round 2

Social Economy Scotland participated in Round 1 as Strengthening the Social Economy Partnership.  Whilst the Round 1 project raised the visibility of the Social Economy in Scotland the Round 2 work has been focusing on influencing mainstream agencies in terms of the development of the sector.

Transnational partnerships


Pauline Graham, Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO),


Action 2: 30 June 2007
Action 3: 31 December 2007

Equal theme

Social economy


The lead partner SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) has existed in various guises since 1939. Its seeks to advance the values and shared interests of the voluntary sector by building the voluntary sector capacity, strengthening governance and increase the effectiveness of the voluntary sector’s infrastructure. The partnership established for the Equal Round One project has been extended to deliver the Round Two activity.

Intended impact/ sustainability

The DP is intending to raise the profile of the social economy from a low baseline whereby 96% of respondents felt the activities of social economy organisations were not sufficiently well known.  Any measurable increase will have impact on the readiness and sustainability of  organisations, on the personal capability of their people an on sustainabile partnership working.

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Practice X
Policy X X
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Partnership links and evidenced effectiveness of procurement based projects and financial instruments for supporting social enterprise will exhibit models applicable across Europe.


The DP expects to inform policy to grow the social economy in Scotland. Key areas include: testing ‘public-social partnership’ as a model of service delivery, developing a ‘procurement standard’ for the social economy, demonstrating quality assurance and ensuring that organisations are ‘fit for purpose’; demonstrating how the social economy can add value, and measure this value added - testing a range of impact measurement tools (including ‘social return on investment’).


Partnership links and evidenced effectiveness of procurement based projects and financial instruments for supporting social enterprise will exhibit models applicable across Europe.

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Activities and products

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