Record number of social enterprises created last year, report finds

A record-breaking more than 12,000 social enterprises were created last year, according to a new report. 

No Going Back: State of Social Enterprise Report 2021, published today by the membership body Social Enterprise UK, says there are more than 100,000 social enterprises in the UK contributing £60bn a year to the UK economy and employing two million people. 

The report, which is based on research conducted among almost 900 social enterprises, says social enterprises were more resilient than mainstream businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, with 44 per cent reporting an increase in turnover last year compared with 18 per cent of businesses. 

Slightly more than a third of social enterprises reported a decrease in turnover compared with 56 per cent of businesses, according to the report. 

The report, which is published every two years by SEUK, found that 47 per cent of social enterprises were led by a woman, rising to 66 per cent among new enterprises that have been operating for up to a year. 

It says that 14 per cent of social enterprises were led by a person from a racialised community, compared with 8 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “The pandemic has been an enormous shock to our economy, and many have doubted whether social enterprises can survive when the going gets tough.

“This research has found that not only can social enterprises survive, they can thrive. Whether it is growing their business, hiring new staff, giving more opportunities to women or tackling the climate emergency, social enterprises are leading the way.

“Rather than dismissing social enterprises as a novelty or exception, we need politicians and investors to take these entrepreneurs seriously. They are showing a roadmap for our future where business tackles the multiple, overlapping challenges that our country faces. There is no time to waste.” 

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