39 reasons EU funds could boost UK social enterprise in 2014

39 local enterprise partnerships in England, which aim to strengthen local economies through collaborations between local authorities and businesses, are being allocated €6.2 billion (£5.2 billion) as part of the EU Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme for 2014 to 2020.
Draft strategies published last month outlined how LEPs intend to use the European funding. All 39 LEPs mention social enterprise at least once, said SEUK following a review of each strategy.
The new data indicates an important opportunity for social enterprises across England to access a vital source of funding. The findings are intended to give social enterprises in each area some "knowledge about how and where social enterprise is addressed to enable them to engage better with LEPs", explained Peter Holbrook chief executive of SEUK.
In applying for the funds, LEPs were requested to align their strategies to the EU Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme’s top priorities, which include support for small businesses, social inclusion, employment, skills and low carbon
“Through LEPs, this large pot of European funding is going to play an important role in supporting and regenerating communities over the next seven years and social enterprises need to be a part of the plans," said Holbrook.
SEUK has highlighted seven different mentions of social enterprise across the LEP funding strategies to give social enterprises an overview of how social enterprise has been introduced into the LEP plans:
·         28 LEPs include social enterprise to address the objective of social inclusion - reducing poverty and supporting disadvantaged individuals and families.
·         23 LEPs include social enterprise within their plans for supporting SMEs - building the capacity of existing businesses to grow and encouraging the development of   sustainable new businesses.           
·         19 LEPs are considering social investment as part of their planned activities, with 11 LEPs specifically considering local impact funds.
·         15 LEPs mention social enterprise to address the objective of innovation.
·         15 LEPs mention social enterprise to address the objective of skills.
·         11 LEPs mention social enterprise to address the objective of employment.
·         8 LEPs mention social enterprise to address the objective of low carbon.
SEUK said that the national body will provide  members with more information about what each LEP is planning and put them in touch with relevant local and regional networks.
“What is excellent to see is that LEPs are really recognising the contribution that social enterprises can make in local areas – not only towards achieving their social inclusion objectives but also across key themes like competitiveness, innovation, skills and employment," said Holbrook.
Social Enterprise UK will continue to monitor strategies, engage with LEPs and inform members and partners as this important work continues to develop quickly.
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