The Hidden Revolution, supported by Nationwide and Co-op Group, presents fresh analysis of the size and scale of the social enterprise sector. According to independent analysis, the social enterprise sector makes a £60bn contribution to UK GDP, compared to £24bn in previous research. The Hidden Revolution also brings together key statistics which show that social enterprises are more competitive than traditional firms, confirmed that social enterprises are the Future of Business.  

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For the first time, research has considered the impact of 5,000 larger social enterprises, as well as small and medium-sized social enterprises. Taken together with other data, this means that there are around 100,000 social enterprises, contributing £60bn to the UK economy and employing 2m people.

In total, social enterprises are worth around 3% of UK GDP – three times larger than the agricultural sector – and 5% of all UK employment, employing as many people the entire creative industry sector.

Social Enterprise UK, the Co-op Group and Nationwide Building Society are calling on the government to take greater notice of the growing importance of the sector and back its growth through a comprehensive package of measures. This would build on the Civil Society Strategy published last month and the Industrial Strategy published by government last year. Measures could include:

  • Using public procurement policy to support social enterprise through strengthening the Social Value Act
  • Amending company law so that businesses have to give more regard to their social and environmental responsibilities
  • Consider how the tax system can incentivise businesses which have a social as well as an economic impact on society
  • Embedding social enterprise in the school curriculum so that young people are aware of the option of starting or working for a social enterprise

Without backing social enterprises, the country will struggle to remain competitive leaving communities up and down the country more vulnerable.