Social Enterprise NI as the representative body for the social economy in Northern Ireland welcomes the recent adoption by the Council of the European Union of the recommendation to promote frameworks for the social economy across Europe in order to support its role in fostering social inclusion and access to jobs market. Member states will have two years to adopt or update their national strategies for the social economy. The recommendation aims to boost the role of the social economy in supporting social inclusion and integration into the labour market of disadvantaged groups, by recommending that member states take measures to:
facilitate access to funding, to markets and to public procurement for social economy entities.
make best use of state aid rules and develop a favourable taxation environment.
increase the visibility and recognition of the social economy.
Member states are recommended to take measures in order to acknowledge and support the role of the social economy in:
easing access to the labour market, especially for vulnerable or underrepresented groups
fostering social inclusion, by providing accessible and high-quality social and care services
stimulating skills development, including skills needed for the digital and green transitions.
promoting social innovation and sustainable economic development
The main changes to the Commission’s initial proposal reflect requests from member states for the role of the social economy in fair digital and green transitions and social cohesion to be further highlighted. The Council also recognises the role that the social economy can play in international cooperation. Yolanda Díaz Perez, Spain’s acting Minister for Work and Social Economy, reflected on the outcome saying, “Social economy entities tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our society, notably on labour and social integration and social cohesion. And yet there is so much we can do to support the further development of the social economy, in our member states and across the EU. We need to tap into the enormous potential that the social economy has, in order to improve our responses to the social and environmental challenges we all face and ensure no one is left behind”. Member states will have two years to adopt or update their national strategies for the social economy. They will then monitor and evaluate the steps taken to achieve the objectives of the recommendation, and report to the Commission on their progress within four years of its adoption. Social economy: Council recommends member states tap its full potential - Consilium (europa.eu)
Australia social enterprises receive Federal Government support
In Australia the Federal Government has recently issued a report on Workforce Australia which calls for a Commonwealth social procurement framework and social enterprise strategy. This is welcomed and we congratulate our sister organisations in Australia who have been lobbying for many years for such recognition of social enterprises and the support that this will bring.
Social Enterprise NI welcomes these proactive initiatives across the globe, which recognises the progress of the social economy as a business model that generates real “profit with purpose”. We continue to lobby for a Regional Strategy for Northern Ireland in order to support the growth of the 10x Economy and to align a strategy which exists in other parts of the UK and Republic of Ireland.
As we look forward to a new year and hopefully the return of a functioning Stormont, Social Enterprise NI will continue to lobby locally for the recognition that the sector deserves, and the ability to partner with other sectors to help create efficiencies within the public spend. A cross departmental, cross party supported Strategy similar to those published elsewhere across the globe, supporting social value through procurement, social partnerships, and the role that the social economy can play in supporting Community Wealth Building, would be a step forward in this regard.