Community-owned enterprises were highlighted as a way to increase business innovation and develop an inclusive economy. © Getty Images/EyeEm
Community-owned enterprises were highlighted as a way to increase business innovation and develop an inclusive economy. © Getty Images/EyeEm

Public procurement must support social enterprises

The public sector needs to open up more opportunities to work with social enterprises, according to a report.

The report, On Target for 2030?  by UWS-Oxfam Partnership and the University of the West of Scotland, examined how well Scotland is progressing towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including meeting goals in infrastructure, industrialisation and innovation.

Further opportunities need to be given to social enterprises through Scotland's public procurement and private sector partnerships, recommended the report. While the Partnership for Procurement service, a government-funded initiative to support social enterprises with public contracts, was highlighted as helping enable access to public supply chains and infrastructure, “more needs to be done”. 

“There are significant, but manageable challenges to the further development of social enterprises in Scotland. They include the need to further open up opportunities for public sector procurement...but much more needs to be done,” said the report.

Public-social partnerships, including with NHS trusts, have all had a positive impact on the growth and development of social enterprises, and support from the local government can develop more opportunities for these. 

“Local authorities and other public bodies have a role to play as well. Many local authorities have officers dedicated to social enterprise support. Some, but not all, local authority Business Gateway services have specialist social enterprise advisors,” said the report.

Community-owned enterprises were highlighted as a way to increase business innovation and develop an inclusive economy with food co-operatives, development trusts, community-owned energy companies, and social housing organisations.

The Kinning Park Complex, an arts and community centre in Glasgow, and the Sleat Community Trust in Skye, which develops renewable energy sources to benefit the local community, were examples of community-run businesses that have provided a social and economic impact.

The Scottish Government has provided a “strong” agenda within infrastructure for sustainable and social considerations in procurement, and construction companies have helped drive forward social enterprises in supply chains, said the report. 

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