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Social Enterprises in Scotland

Michael J. Roy- Glasgow Caledonian University

Abstract: The development of social enterprise in Scotland has historically been linked to the country’s particular welfare state structures (the UK’s ‘liberal’ welfare regime) and shaped in recent years by the marketization of public services and an ideologically driven austerity regime, which, among many adverse effects on the most vulnerable communities,) has placed significant pressure on public services, and upon local third sector organisations to fill the gaps caused by retreat of the state in certain areas. In Scotland, social enterprise is found in all areas of the economy. They can be particularly found running community amenities, and in the arts, childcare, and health and social care sectors. Although there has been a long tradition of social enterprise-like activity in Scotland, the term ‘social enterprise’ took longer to enter into mainstream policy discourse in Scotland compared to England under New Labour. Social enterprise forms in Scotland have been shaped by traditions of ‘community enterprise’, which is the dominant model that persists to the present day. Like the rest of the UK, there is no legal definition of a social enterprise and they can take a variety of legal forms. Recent censuses of the sector mean that there is good information on the size and shape of the sector in Scotland. For the future, it remains to be seen whether, and to what extent, the transfer of new welfare powers to Scotland will result in changes to the shape and nature of social enterprise in Scotland.