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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Opportunities for social enterprise in new programme for government

This opinion piece is over 2 years old

The Scottish Government has now published the new programme for government, the series of policy pledges for the year ahead. There’s lots in there that will be of interest to social entrepreneurs.

A fairer, greener Scotland has been negotiated between The Scottish Government and the Scottish Green Party, as part of a new type of co-operation agreement. This ensures a majority in The Scottish Parliament and two Green ministers in government for the very first time.

There’s a key section called “An Economy that works for all of Scotland’s People and Places” that says: 

“We will also support businesses with alternative ownership models, including cooperatives and social enterprises, with a view to increasing their representation in the Scottish economy, and increase the number of employee owned businesses in Scotland to 500 by 2030.”

In the “Living Better” section it adds: 

“We will also support the social enterprise sector as it works to tackle pressing social issues including homelessness and climate change – investing £5 million over three years to help community organisations recover from the pandemic, give every child the opportunity to engage with a social enterprise during their time at school, and promote international social enterprises in emerging markets like Africa and South East Asia.”

There are many diverse policy pledges that are relevant to social enterprises. It’s worth searching for commitments that are of specific interest to your organisation and sector. Also bear in mind that we already have the Social Enterprise Action Plan commitments in place.

Here are some of the key policy pledges of broad interest:

  • Promote and establish Scotland as a world-leading centre for green and ethical finance.
  • Establish a National Care Service (NCS) - including “ethical commissioning” and implementing a Fair Work agenda.
  • Further support for housing cooperatives, including potentially through LBTT tax relief.
  • A Good Food Nation Bill plus Local Food Strategy - aimed at ‘grow your own’ initiatives and harnessing public sector procurement.
  • Progress further a multi-year funding model for third sector organisations. 
  • Work with Third Sector Interfaces to strengthen their influence and revise funding to give more support to areas of highest deprivation.
  • Legislation to improve Charity Law, strengthening the legal and regulatory framework to enhance public trust.
  • Minimum Income Guarantee - to ensure that everyone has enough money to live with dignity plus Scottish Child Payment to children under 16 by the end of 2022 and doubling it to £20 per week as quickly as possible.
  • Continue to deliver the Young Person’s Guarantee - providing a job or education, training or formal volunteering for every young person, with £70 million this year.
  • Provide £100 million over this Parliament for programmes to increase the digital capacity and capability of business.
  • Pilot a 4-day working week with a £10 million fund for participating companies.
  • A leading Fair Work Nation by 2025, including making payment of the real living wage to all employees a condition of public sector grants by summer 2022.
  • New £20 million Rural Entrepreneur Fund in the coming financial year.
  • Community Wealth Building Bill - helping create and protect jobs and enable greater community and third sector ownership of assets.
  • 20-minute neighbourhoods, investment in town centres and £325 million Place Based Investment, supporting community-led regeneration, complemented by £50 million low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment scheme.
  • Land Reform Bill - to address the concentration of land ownership, including a public interest test. Doubling the Scottish Land Fund by the end of the Parliament.

We look forward to the next year and working with our partners in social enterprise and the third sector, as well as with national and local government, to ensure that social enterprise solutions are at the heart of our economy.

If social enterprises have any questions about the new Programme for Government or any other policy issues please get in contact with

Duncan Thorp is policy & public affairs manager for Social Enterprise Scotland