Social enterprises will be “at the heart" of Labour’s economic policy, and a Labour government would look at legislative and financial opportunities to support them, Labour MPs said yesterday.
Speaking at The Future of Business Summit yesterday, organised by membership body, Social Enterprise UK and Labour Business; Labour politicians Rebecca Long Bailey, shadow secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Anneliese Dodds, shadow treasury minister, and Bill Esterson, shadow minister for small gusiness and international trade outlined their wishes to restructure the economy, by nurturing social enterprises.
The speakers argued that the current structure of the economy is failing people and that market forces are not providing services that people need. They argued that there is not sufficient planning for the long term economy, and instead money is invested to make short term profit.
They said that a shift towards social enterprises would create more diversity in the economy to resolve these issues, make a more productive economy and reverse the decline of the high street. Long Bailey said: “We need to have more diversity in our economy. That’s why we place the role social enterprises right at the heart of Labour’s economic policy.”
'Social enterprises should be a natural business option'
Dodds added: “The most important change that we need to make is to ensure that governments view social enterprises as natural” in terms of a business option.
The speakers also said that government bodies should use their procurement powers to champion social enterprises. Long Bailey highlighted renewable energy as an area in which social enterprises could be used to form local energy projects to regenerate local communities and help the export economy grow.
She said: “We want to democratise our energy system as much as possible and social enterprises will play a critical role.”
Dodds said that the party is considering ways to boost the sector, including looking at tax relief, boosting the Social Value Act and creating funding from a National Investment Bank. Esterson added: “Government need to be a partner in business in delivering on social purpose.”
In 2016, John McDonnell, shadow chancellor, said that he wanted to double the size of the cooperative sector in the UK. Labour’s industrial Strategy, which was unveiled in October 2017, also stated that the British economy “must be so much more than just monetary value in the form of profits for employers - it must be social value.”
Figures from Social Enterprise UK say that there are 100,000 social enterprises in operation contributing £60bn to the economy and employing one million people.