Driving Impact: Understanding the Role of Social Enterprises in the UK Economy

At WRS Insurance Brokers, we are a proud member of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), a renowned organisation dedicated to advancing the social enterprise sector. As a certified social enterprise ourselves, we align closely with their mission and values.

SEUK is a leading advocate and support network for social enterprises nationwide. They conduct detailed research and advocacy to champion the sector’s growth and impact. Their State of Social Enterprise report named ‘Mission Critical’, which is published every two years, offers insights into the sector’s landscape, challenges, and successes.

This report has been run by SEUK since 2009 and aims to provide a comprehensive picture of the UK Social Enterprise sector. Using government estimates and data from the State of Social Enterprise, the 2023 report reveals:

  • An impressive landscape of 131,000 social enterprises spread across the UK, representing 1 in 42 businesses nationwide. Despite facing complex hurdles, these enterprises are not just thriving but also pioneering change in both economic and social realms.
  • Social enterprises collectively contribute a substantial turnover of £78 billion, constituting approximately 3.4% of the UK’s GDP. Notably, only 17% of social enterprises experienced a decline in turnover, compared to 30% of businesses as a whole who faced similar challenges.
  • Social enterprises provide jobs for approximately 2.3 million people, with an impressive 84% ensuring fair compensation through the real Living Wage. Moreover, social enterprises actively promote workforce diversity, addressing employment barriers related to gender, race, and class.
  • Beyond financial success, social enterprises prioritise their social and environmental missions, reinvesting £1 billion to drive progress in these vital areas. With £1.2 billion in profit, these entities are proving that profitability can coexist with purpose.
  • Nearly a fifth of social enterprises are dedicated to combating climate change, while a significant 65% have concrete plans in place to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This proactive stance underscores their commitment to environmental sustainability.

Commenting on the research findings, SEUK’s chair, Lord Victor Adebowale CBE said:

“While social enterprises continue to start up and grow, despite the obstacles, the scale of our ambition should not be to keep things going. We cannot take for granted the sector’s ongoing contributions to our economy, our environment and wider society. Social enterprises are surviving but they should be thriving.

“Given the sector’s impact despite present challenges, its potential in a more supportive ecosystem could be transformative.  ‘Business as usual’ isn’t working and this mission-led model must become the new normal. As we look ahead to a general election year, social enterprise solutions must be front and centre of a British economy that drives fair growth for all.”

At WRS Insurance Brokers, we are specialists in Social Enterprise Insurance and our experienced team is passionate about the charitable sector. Our experience has taught us that one size certainly doesn’t fit all and that every not-for-profit organisation faces its own unique risks.

WRS is part of the Benefact Group, a charity-owned, international family of financial services companies that gives all available profits to charity and good causes.