Woman carrying a reusable shopping bag in a zero waste shop.

Barclays and Social Enterprise UK report a record-breaking rise in number of social enterprises founded during pandemic

13 October 2021
  • The UK now has over 100,000 social enterprises, worth a combined £60 billion to the UK economy.
  • Having a positive social and environment impact is a top priority for social enterprises, with the vast majority (84 per cent) stating that this impact is as important as costs
  • Barclays launches new offering to social businesses, including loan assessments specifically designed for social business customers.

Social enterprises, businesses which trade for a social and/or environmental purpose, are thriving despite operating in the toughest economic conditions for over a decade according to the latest research from Social Enterprise UK and Barclays.

The ‘No Going Back: State of Social Enterprise Report 2021’ reveals that a record-breaking 12,000 social enterprises were created last year, as entrepreneurs seek to better their communities in the wake of the pandemic.

In the UK there are currently more than 100,000 social enterprises and they contribute £60bn to the UK economy, employing 2m people. Nearly a quarter of social enterprises (23 per cent) operate in the most deprived communities of the UK and social enterprises in these areas have higher levels of turnover and staff than those in richer areas.

Having a positive social and environment impact is a top priority for social enterprises, with the vast majority (84 per cent) stating that this impact is as important as costs. In the run up to COP26, these businesses have also made strong commitments to tackling climate change, with two thirds of social enterprises (67 per cent) stating they have either put a commitment to tackling climate change into their governing documents or are considering doing so. Additionally, one in five (20 per cent) of social enterprises address the climate emergency as part of their core mission.

Social enterprises are also setting the pace for female-led business with the sector on course to be first to reach gender parity with 47 per cent of social enterprises now led by women.

Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK said: “The pandemic has been an enormous shock to our economy, and many have doubted whether social enterprises can survive when the going gets tough. This research has found that not only can social enterprises survive, they can thrive. Whether it is growing their business, hiring new staff, giving more opportunities to women or tackling the climate emergency, social enterprises are leading the way.”

“Rather than dismissing social enterprises as a novelty or exception, we need politicians and investors to take these entrepreneurs seriously. They are showing a roadmap for our future where business tackles the multiple, overlapping challenges that our country faces. There is no time to waste.”

To help the continued growth and impact of the sector, Barclays is launching a new proposition for social businesses. Alongside specialist social business managers support and opportunities for free mentoring through their partnership with Ethical Angel, Barclays now has loan assessments specifically designed for social business customers, offering even more flexibility when accessing finance.

Barclaycard Payments is also currently offering new customers a 12 months’ free card terminal rental if they apply by 31 December 20211. With no cancellation fees, the offer could help all businesses – including social businesses – take card payments.

Hannah Bernard, Head of Business Banking at Barclays, said: “Businesses across the spectrum have been tested to their limits during the pandemic, however the resilience and creativity demonstrated by social businesses to continue their growth and do so much good – in spite of these challenges – is astonishing.

“Many of the societal and environmental challenges we’re facing are only set to intensify, and we believe social enterprises hold many of the answers. We’re proud to be strengthening our support of these businesses with specialist support and new access to finance, as they continue to do great things in our society.”

To read the full No Going Back: State of Social Enterprise Report 2021 visit: https://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/state-of-social-enterprise-reports/no-going-back-state-of-social-enterprise-survey-2021/

To find out more about Barclays support for Social Businesses visit: https://www.barclays.co.uk/business-banking/sectors/social-business/

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Notes to Editor:

1. To enquire about a Barclaycard card terminal, customers should call 0808 296 7994. Offer terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Offer ends 31 December 2021. New UK customers only. Offer not valid on Smartpay Fuse, Fixed Connect or Portable Connect products. Card reader terms and conditions, card reader hire terms and conditions and merchant terms and conditions apply. The approval of an application depends on financial circumstances and borrowing history.

Social Enterprise UK, with the financial support of Barclays, commissioned BMG Research to conduct the State of Social Enterprise Survey 2021. BMG Research conducted fieldwork and initial data analysis. A total of 890 responses were gathered via telephone interviews and online surveys between February and April 2021.

Social Enterprises are businesses which have a legal commitment to achieving a positive social and environmental mission as well as delivering a profit. The majority of any profit that they do make must be reinvested either back into the business to deliver their mission or given to another organisation to achieve that mission. The UK is a world leader in social enterprise and has one of the largest social enterprise sectors in the world in terms of size and scale.

Case study:

The Recruitment Junction: Founded in autumn 2020, The Recruitment Junction is the first recruitment agency in the north east of England to place people with convictions into paid work. Since starting the business just 11 months ago, The Recruitment Junction has already placed 76 candidates to date, with 90 per cent job retention rates and fewer than 3 per cent having committed a further crime. Its vision is to see ex-offenders rediscover a sense of purpose through work, becoming role models who drive positional generational impact across their families, as it partners with local employers to meet regional skills shortages, as well as playing its part in reducing re-offending.

Since launching, The Recruitment Junction has grown from two to six staff, including team members who themselves have prior convictions. Looking to the future, they see a need for The Recruitment Junction to continue to scale, and envisage expanding the team into industry specialists, so they’re able to identify growth areas in the market and react swiftly to local demand.

Beverley Brooks, Founder-Director of The Recruitment Junction, says: “Despite starting a business during the pandemic, we have chosen not to be daunted by it. As much as anywhere else in the country at the moment, there are specific sectors struggling for good manpower – HGV drivers, hospitality staff, manufacturing and production workers, the care sector – to name a few – and we are excited to meet this need through our hardworking and resilient workforce.

“We love the Barclays Eagle Labs facility in Newcastle – it’s very central and the professional, quality feel to the offices gives a certain ‘dignity’ or honour to our candidates when they first visit, signalling that of course they are fully ‘worthy’ of coming to a space like this. The service at Barclays Eagle Labs is great, they’re proactive with their help and we feel really welcome as members here, despite the uniqueness of our service offering.”

About Social Enterprise UK
Social Enterprise UK is the largest network of certified social enterprises in the UK and the leading global authority on social enterprises. Together with our members we are the voice for the sector. We have led public policy for 15 years, helping pass the Social Value Act, and are a strategic partner to government. We exist to increase the profile of the sector and build the markets for our members - working with some of the UK’s biggest companies to support them to bring social enterprises into their supply chains. Our members reflect the diversity of the sector ranging from local grass-roots organisations to multi-million-pound businesses. We see social enterprise as the future of business.