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Social enterprise is at the heart of economic growth

Posted on Thursday 14 July 2016

The Social Enterprise Summit is taking place this week to showcase and celebrate social enterprises in Gateshead.

Social enterprises, businesses that put people and communities first and reinvest their profits back into society, are at the heart of Gateshead’s economic growth.

In 2014, Gateshead was the second borough in the North East of England to be awarded social enterprise status. There are now 70,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing nearly a million people and contributing £24 billion to the economy.

Councillor Gary Haley, Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “We are delighted to be working with Social Enterprise UK, to celebrate social enterprise in Gateshead. As a council we have supported social enterprise development for more than 30 years and are very proud of the social enterprise journey and legacy in the borough.

“Social enterprise is being increasingly acknowledged as a core economic driver, playing a central role in both social and economic regeneration and business growth, delivering much needed services, promoting inclusion, changing lives and providing employment.”

A special group has been established to grow the local social enterprise sector and is hosting the summit at the Northern Design Centre.  Social enterprises and social enterprise support organisations will explore the key challenges facing the borough and how they can work together to continue to grow Gateshead’s economy.

Social enterprises have a key role in the delivery of local services and can help to regenerate local communities. Research by Social Enterprise UK shows that social enterprises are outperforming their mainstream SME counterparts in nearly every area of business: turnover growth, workforce growth, job creation, innovation, business optimism, and start-up rates.

Social enterprise support in Gateshead is primarily provided by the Council which has actively supported the development of the sector for the past 30 years.  Gateshead is one of the local authorities in the UK which puts substantial focus onproviding business support for social enterprises - and was acknowledged in a recent Young Foundation report as a model of best practice.

Social enterprises are starting up all over Britain – 1 in 7 of all business start-ups are now social enterprises. In Gateshead, many social enterprises have been set up from scratch, including Aukestral Creative Solutions, a Community Interest Company which combines support for young people with autism and a passion for music. Another example is the Sight Service, the leading local provider of services for people who are visually impaired.

Others were formerly operated by the public sector, such as Gateshead Indoor Bowling centre.

Social Enterprise Places Programme

The Places Programme, which recognises and awards social enterprise cities, towns and villages across Britain is led by the national campaigning body Social Enterprise UK, and supported by Santander.

Social Enterprise UK ( is the national body for social enterprise. Together with its members, it is the voice for social enterprise in the UK.