The Social Enterprise Barometer provides a quarterly update on social enterprise performance. It uses data collected from SEUK’s Social Enterprise Advisory Panel to give up-to-date information about the financial health and growth of social enterprises.

SEAP March Barometer 263 Social Enterprise UK

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Key Findings

Having proven resilient throughout the COVID-19 crisis so far, the combined challenges of ongoing COVID-related uncertainty, rising costs of living and operating costs for business are meaning that overall performance of social enterprises is not as strong as it was in the last two quarters of 2021.

Although COVID-related restrictions are being lifted across the UK, the Omicron variant renewed uncertainty from early December 2021. 55% of social enterprises told us that COVID-related uncertainty was one of their biggest worries for the first half of 2022. Concerns are not just about restrictions, but staffing (including ill health), demand, and general inability to plan and to secure income.

Added to this, many social enterprises are concerned about their ability to cope given the removal of COVID support, combined with the rising cost of living affecting customers, clients and consequently demand, as well as the related increase in operating costs and inputs.

Turnover rates are down this quarter compared to the last two quarters, with a net growth rate of 15% in January 2022 compared to a net growth of 26% in October 2021.

Social enterprises were less likely to be making a loss than other businesses

Cashflow positions nationwide have remained steady between July and November 2021

The proportion of social enterprises increasing their staff numbers reduced in November 2021, compared to August 2021. However, there is still net growth in staff numbers – which was not the case for traditional small business in the last quarter of 2021.