Scots social enterprises contribute £2.3bn in gross value added

Scottish social enterprises have increased their income by more than £750m in two years, new figures reveal.

The Scottish Social Enterprise Census also shows that social enterprise profits have increased by more than £100m.

There are now an estimated 6,025 social enterprises operating in Scotland, posting a consistent growth rate of 8% every two years. The sector’s economic contribution is even more significant - having grown by 13% since 2017 to £2.3bn in 2019.

The Census report was unveiled by Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell at the annual Community Enterprise in Scotland conference in Glasgow. Other key findings from the census include:

  • Business practices that remain ethical – 75% of social enterprises pay their employees at least a living wage (increasing from 68% in 2015), women lead 65% of social enterprises, and there has been consistent wage differential of 1:2.5 in all three census years;
  • Service provision that remains responsive – 76% of social enterprises identify that their business started due to gaps in local service provision (this is even higher in rural areas, 80%) and 79% of all social enterprises trade directly with consumers (an increase from 68% in 2015);
  • Geographic coverage that remains diverse – 33% of social enterprises operating in rural communities, 20% of all social enterprises are in remote rural communities, which only account for 6% of Scotland’s population;
  • Financial performance that remains strong – significant growth in net worth (£6.1 billion – 22% growth since 2017) and annual income generated (£4.4 billion – 16% growth since 2017).

Cabinet Secretary Campbell challenged the social enterprise sector “to understand, and maximise its important contribution to the development of a Wellbeing Economy here in Scotland”. 

The Social Enterprise Census is a biennial project funded by the Scottish Government, delivered by Social Value Lab and led by CEIS.