Cooperatives and Social Enterprises: Government Assistance

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 23 September 2022.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has to help to grow (a) cooperatives and (b) social businesses.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government strongly supports the co-operative sector and social businesses’ contribution to society and the economy. Co-operatives and mutuals contribute to the diversity and resilience of the economy with their democratic structure, their emphasis on the long-term interests of their members and their local focus and commitment. Social businesses create jobs for those excluded from the labour market, directly address social challenges and build social capital within communities.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport works with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and other relevant departments to ensure that government policy helps cooperatives and social businesses to grow and flourish.

The Government has cut the red tape facing the sector through the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and subsequent regulations. More recently, the government has reaffirmed our commitment to the sector through the £150 million community ownership fund, which supports co-operatives and community-owned businesses to take over valuable and viable local assets at risk of closure.

DCMS’s support for social businesses includes:

  • £485 million of dormant assets funding that has been allocated to social investment, which to date has supported thousands of charities and social enterprises across England to grow their impact and scale their operations

  • developing the Social Value Model, in partnership with Cabinet Office - requiring social value to be evaluated in all central government procurement

  • launching the VCSE Contract Readiness Fund - inviting bids to enable VCSE organisations to compete alongside other organisations and increase their participation in public service procurement

Work is also underway on plans to meet the following commitment from the Levelling Up White Paper:

“The UK Government will consider how best to encourage social organisations and entrepreneurship to flourish in left-behind places across the UK, building on and augmenting existing support, generating evidence on what social enterprises need to do to thrive in disadvantaged places, and encouraging the next generation of social entrepreneurs.”

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