Report demonstrates how collaborations between social enterprises and local institutions can be beneficial for positive impact

In 2020 the Bevan Foundation, Wales’ most innovative and influential think tank brought together a panel of speakers to explore how social entrepreneurs and key local institutions like local councils can maximise their activities and build relationships to help grow more resilient local economies and communities.

Along with UnLtd, the Bevan Foundation are devising a new strategy for the social enterprise sector to:

  • Encourage local authorities and other publics bodies to include social enterprises in their supply chains
  • Raise the profile and awareness of the economic contribution of the sector
  • Persuade policy makers to prioritise social enterprise solutions when considering how to address problems and create conditions which help social enterprises to rebuild and thrive.

Social enterprises make important economic and social contributions to localities. Anchor institutions - including local authorities and other public bodies - play a key role in helping them thrive. Together, they contribute to the development of the local economy and provision of social goods and infrastructure as well as to achieving shared social objectives for the communities they work in. The ability of social enterprises to pioneer new ways of working and to innovate offer valuable contributions to addressing local challenges that can be adopted, scaled and disseminated across local partners.

Social enterprise in Wales is growing. In the latest mapping of the sector*, 324 additional social enterprises were identified compared to 2016. The sector is estimated to be worth £3.18 billion in Wales, an increase of 34 per cent on the same period.

The discussion identified five steps that can help to foster more and better collaborations between public bodies and social enterprises for social outcomes:

  • Grow a social enterprise culture
  • Join up good practice
  • Embed social value
  • Ensure clarity of pipeline
  • Improve contract design.

Ellen Petts, founder and managing director or Greenstream Flooring CIC, was invited to join the panel discussion to share insights on working with local authorities for positive outcomes.

She highlighted: “We have won some public contracts and made public contracting part of our revenue stream, but it has not been easy. The contracts are sometimes part of a much larger project where we work with other suppliers.  Some good examples of these are Public Health Wales, Cardiff Council, Swansea Council, and a number of housing associations.  They chose to work with us because they see the added benefit of the circular programme, to not only use recycled carpet tiles, but to also support a social enterprise.  We also employ local people from the area as well as provide training and volunteering opportunities and this supports a local employability ethos as well.

“Our experience working with local authorities has been positive, but we still feel that there is a need for procurement services to look at the wider picture when it comes to purchasing items, whether it be in flooring or other products.”

If you are interested in reading the full report, you can download it HERE.


 *Wales Co-operative Centre (2019) Mapping the social business sector in Wales 2018/19 


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