UK social enterprises contribute 3% of GDP, claims SEUK research

The UK's social enterprise sector contributes three times more to the economy than agriculture, Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) claimed this week after releasing research which argues that the sector is a much more significant player than previously estimated.

The Hidden Revolution, published by SEUK, Nationwide and the Co-op Group, concludes that social enterprises are worth £60bn to the UK economy, which represents 3% of UK GDP.

Previous research by the government and SEUK had estimated that there were around 70,000 social enterprises in the country which contributed £24bn to the economy.

SEUK's new approach to measuring the sector now includes around 5,000 larger organisations including building societies and co-operatives which had previously been excluded.

Chair of SEUK, Lord Victor Adebowale (pictured), said: "Social enterprises' £60bn contribution to the UK is too big to ignore and is just the start of something that the government must get behind. If it doesn't, there is a real risk that the UK will get left behind as other countries recognise social enterprise as the future of business."

Key findings

  • The contribution of social enterprise to the UK economy is £60bn of GDP. This is three times larger than agriculture and as big as creative services.
  • There are around 100,000 social enterprises in the UK.
  • The sector employs 2m people, which is 5% of the workforce.
  • 47% of social enterprises grew their turnover in the last 12 months compared with 34% of UK businesses.
  • Britain's top five co-operatives pay more tax than Amazon, Facebook, Apple, eBay and Starbucks combined.