British firms spend £45m with social enterprises

Social Enterprise UK has called on British firms to spend £1 billion with social enterprises after a new report revealed they had spent £45 million in the last two years.

The report examines the impact of Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge, which calls on UK firms to use their spending power to help social enterprises change lives in marginalised communities.

According to the report, in the two years since the challenge was first launched, companies have spent a total of £45m with social enterprises, which has led to creation of 329 jobs.

And as part of the challenge, social enterprises have been able to reinvest £2.9m profit into their own social missions.

Social enterprises benefitting from the challenge include the IT consultancy Auticon, which exclusively employs people on the autism spectrum and Change Please, a coffee supplier, which creates sustainable jobs for the homeless.

Commenting on the business case for working with social enterprises, Su Pickerill group community investment manager at Wates Group, said: ‘This approach reflects Wates’ values to create a positive legacy in the communities in which we work and also aligns us with clients who share such values.

‘Supporting social enterprise makes sense both commercially in terms of supporting work winning and by leaving communities stronger and more resilient. We are committed to ensuring business is a force for good and this approach enables us to deliver on that, for our communities and our clients.

‘The Buy Social Corporate Challenge is a channel for Wates to engage with other socially minded organisations and to encourage diverse and innovative organisations into our supply chain,’ added Ms Pickerill.

Social Enterprise UK’s chief executive, Peter Holbrook said businesses are increasingly being held to account by their customers and their staff over how they operate.

‘Traditional concepts of corporate social responsibility are often just not good enough but what the Buy Social Corporate Challenge has done is helped catalyse a movement of large companies who are using their core business spend to create real positive impacts in the communities they work with and around the world,’ added Mr Holbrook.

‘If we are to achieve our ambitious target of £1bn spent with social enterprises we need more businesses to get involved. What the Challenge has managed to achieve in the last two years has undoubtedly been impressive. Just over a handful of companies have managed to create hundreds of jobs, weave social impact into their supply chains and spend millions with social enterprises. Think of the impact if every FTSE 100 company was on board.

‘Social enterprises are thriving, market-leading businesses, which also deliver significant social benefit. Our latest report shows that 100% of major corporates have found the services of social enterprises to be either as good or better than their previous suppliers with prices, which are just as competitive. It makes sense that more corporates should sign up – it’s a win-win situation,’ added Mr Holbrook.

You can read the full Social Enterprise UK report here.

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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