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Social enterprise on the increase

Date 27 Jun 2007

The number of social firms in the UK grew significantly in 2006 as more and more entrepreneurs became involved in social enterprise. According to research by Social Firms UK, which supports the development of social enterprise in the UK, the British social firm sector grew by 15% in 2006 compared to 2005.

A social firm as defined by Social Firms UK is a specific type of social enterprise set up specifically to create employment for people severely disadvantaged in the labour market. The analysis of this emerging sector for the second year running has provided year-on-year data for the first time, the organisation said.

There are now 137 businesses of this kind in the UK, with the majority located in the West Midlands and Scotland, the research found. The study also revealed that the number of full-time equivalent jobs in the sector rose by a third to 1,652, of which 52% are held by disabled and disadvantaged people.

Kathy Baker, Social Firms UK quality support manager, said: “The 2006 sector mapping shows that the UK has a solid base of social firms and a sector which is showing real growth. I’ve visited many social firms in person over the last couple of years and can see a clear improvement overall in the quality of the businesses.”

Sally Reynolds, chief executive officer of Social Firms UK, said: “At a time when government is looking for solutions for welfare reform and helping disadvantaged groups into employment we believe that the sector mapping offers an opportunity to present a case for social firms and we’ll be using this information extensively over the coming months.”

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