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GSEN Open Letter regarding Social Enterprise Places programme for Scotland

Many of you may have seen the recent announcement of the Social Enterprise Places Programme for Scotland. Whilst we are, and have been, supportive of initiatives that benefit social enterprise, on this occasion we have significant concerns regarding this proposal and feel there is merit in this open letter, intended to encourage dialogue and transparency in delivering, both at a national or local level, the best outcome for social enterprise.

We have expressed concerns in a series of discussions over an extensive period of time, but have been unsuccessful in these being addressed. These concerns are condensed into the following five points:

  1. As a member led organisation we have a responsibility to ensure that any delivery carried out is achieved in collaboration and as a response to member’s needs. We are not aware of any consultation seeking views for this programme from our membership or indeed any significant number of social enterprises in Glasgow. As a result we are unsure whether there has been a robust indication of need or support of this programme. In addition, it fails in recognising the essence of a coproduced national social enterprise strategy and dangerously veers into a national programme being imposed at a local level. Our hope would be to reignite discussions on this to ensure we are confident that any profile raising work is effective for all.
  2. In areas where similar programmes already exist, we have had no sight of evidence to show the benefit of this approach. Therefore, there remain questions as to its advantage and whether this offers something more substantial than a tagline. We would suggest that a wide scale stakeholder consultation takes place to ensure that any programme delivered nationally, which requires to be embedded locally, is fit for purpose.
  3. While not aware of the detail of the programme, we do know that its purpose is to ‘promote, raise awareness and build markets for social enterprise’ and predominantly at a local level. We have reservations on the duplication this will have in respect of our role and would suggest that any local programmes be overseen and delivered by local partners, ensuring this compliments work already being undertaken.
  4. Glasgow launched its first coproduced Strategy in 2018 after an extensive consultation period. A Social Enterprise Board made up of a range of stakeholders worked together to distil the strategy and create the first of three, three year action plans, then launched in 2019. The action plan contains four strategic priorities, one of which is ‘profile and awareness raising’, and is led by a subgroup of stakeholders. Unfortunately, this proposal has, at best, bypassed the strategy and, at worst, ignored its existence. We would recommend the national and local strategies work in alignment to ensure delivery of the best possible support for social enterprises.
  5. Our ambition is for Glasgow, as a whole, to be a thriving area for social enterprises to grow and develop. It would be a challenge for us to endorse any programme which looks to create segregation by initiating ‘hotspots’ in areas that may be deemed to be better than others. We would propose that any programme, locally or nationally, does not look to create more of an uneven playing field or unnecessary competition but instead looks to support all social enterprise in areas.

We believe that raising the profile of social enterprise is of utmost importance and welcome further dialogue to ensure we are collectively delivering what is best for social enterprises in Glasgow, and in Scotland.

Kind Regards

Elizabeth

Elizabeth Docherty
Director
Glasgow Social Enterprise Network

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