Wigan Borough

Wigan Borough became a Social Enterprise Place in December 2020

History of Social Enterprise

Wigan is a large town in Greater Manchester (formerly in Lancashire) with a population of around 350K.  The towns and villages grew around the coal mining and mill industries, a heritage which the town continues to celebrate.  Wigan boasts excellent transport links which allows many residents to commute to jobs in other North West towns and cities and around two-thirds of the borough is expansive countryside and boasts stunning parks, woodlands, wetlands, canals and green spaces. 

Like many northern towns, Wigan has areas that suffer from deprivation and 29% of the population lives in areas that are amongst the top 20% most deprived in England. This has led to a growth in social enterprises, setting up to support disadvantaged groups and to meet the needs of the communities where they are located.

Current Social Enterprise landscape in Wigan

A survey carried out in 2020 identified c650 Social Enterprises operating across Wigan Borough. These range greatly in size, with income levels of less than £1000, up to around £24m.  The study showed that the sector was worth 2.9% of the local economy in 2018 compared to a national average of 0.9%, outlining the strength of the sector in Wigan.

A focus on Social Services, Arts and Culture and Sports and Social accounts for a large percentage of the SE Sector, with Education and Religious Associations prevalent. 

The Sector benefits from strong support networks both regionally and nationally and recent initiatives, including the process of gaining SE Place Status has grown the appetite for a formal Boroughwide SE Network.  The local council have worked closely with the SE Sector to help develop and deliver The Deal, a local strategy aimed at making Wigan Borough a better place for all residents.

Wigan Social Enterprise Place stats social enterprise uk
Data sources:
Wigan and the Voluntary and Community Sector Economy, MyCake 2020 
Greater Manchester Social Enterprise Survey, 2020 

Key Objectives

  • Identify suitable shared spaces (hubs) for the use of SEs to help increase the number of SEs and grow and develop existing SEs. (Specifically looking to utilise the land and premises currently available to the Local Authority).
  • Build resilience in SE sector – creating and supporting more business minded organisations with less reliance on grant funding, creating stronger links with the commercial business community.
  • Engender a buy local/buy social culture in Wigan – create goods and services that attract the local community as well as working with the local authority, CCG and others to develop a procurement model that recognises the value delivered by SEs.

Wigan Social Enterprise Borough

Stakeholders in Steering Group

Wigan & Leigh Community Cooperative

Wigan Borough Community Partnership

Wigan Workshop CiC

Leigh Building Preservation Trust

Arts at The Mill CiC

Umbrella Arts CiC

True Colours CiC

Express IT Group (Private)

Positive Life Workshop CiC

Driven CIO

Happy Smiles Training CiC

Higher Folds Community Centre

Douglas Valley Community CLG

Individualised Direct Support Service CiC

Wigan Council

For more information, contact Dave Baxter d.baxter@abramwardcooperative.org