Social enterprise the way to quality jobs and reduced poverty
The Wales Co-operative Centre today responded to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report on poverty in Wales, by calling for continued support to social enterprises as a foundation of economic regeneration.
The JRF report identified that 23% of the Welsh population live in poverty. Whilst the overall percentage has changed little in the last ten years, what is new is the extent of in-work poverty, particularly amongst families where members work part-time. The in-work poverty problem is worst in rural Wales: the West, North-West and East. The report suggests that, for some, the way out of poverty could be to work longer hours. But there is also an issue with the quality of jobs available, particularly with the rise of minimum wage, zero hours contracts, with few opportunities for advancement.
This is where social enterprises and co-operatives come in. With their roots often firmly in local communities and a purpose that goes beyond generating profits for the business owners, social enterprises can focus on the quality of employment opportunities they offer to people. Trading surpluses are invested in the business, making social enterprises more likely to grow and increase the number of jobs they offer. By investing in support to social enterprises, Wales benefits both in terms of increasing employment and the quality of those jobs.
The Wales Co-operative Centre provides business support to social enterprises across Wales to help them grow. For example, we are helping the Roman Fort Project, which is a heritage and conservation enterprise in Flintshire. There will be education and experiential learning in different areas including archaeology, ancient and modern build techniques, walking, bird watching, environment, fishing, diving, water sports and agriculture, including rare varieties of herbs, trees and crops. We are providing business planning and financial forecasting support for the enterprise, which could see 18 new jobs created.
The JRF report is a timely reminder of the need for dedicated business support work for the social enterprise sector to continue through the next phase of EU funding.