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Social enterprises in deprived areas have fallen over the last decade, study finds

06 Dec 2023 News

Image: Social Enterprise UK

The proportion of social enterprises based in the most deprived places has fallen over the last decade, but more are delivering services in those areas, a new study suggests. 

The State of Social Enterprise 2023, a report by Social Enterprise UK, found there to be approximately 131,000 social enterprises across the UK. 

It states that despite 22% of respondents being based in the most deprived parts of the country, a similar proportion as in the two previous reports, this represents a fall from 38% in 2013. 

However, over the past decade, social enterprises operating in the least deprived quintile have almost doubled, from 8% in 2013 to 15% in 2023.

Social enterprises in the UK’s most deprived communities reinvested more than £270m in profit into these communities, the report said. 

Sector generates over £1bn in profits

Social enterprise turnover was approximately £78bn last financial year, and the sector generated over £1.2bn in profits, £1bn of which was reinvested into their social missions. 

Some 84% of social enterprises said they were real living wage employers, a voluntary wage calculated by the Resolution Foundation and based on what over-18s need to live. 

Meanwhile, 43% of social enterprises said they have at least one leader from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. 

The amount of social enterprises expecting turnover to decrease was double what it was at pre-pandemic levels, the report said.  

More than one in ten social enterprises expect turnover to decrease next year, which is double pre-pandemic levels.

Almost half of social enterprises surveyed reported an insufficient amount of suitable finances available and over a third said the available forms of finance were unsuitable for them. 

The findings were collected from government estimates and survey data collected by Social Enterprise UK. Its survey received 747 responses this year, down from 890 from its 2021 report.  

The study has been running since 2009 and is published every two years. 

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