Argyll & Bute Social Enterprise mapping shows combined £40.7m income

Posted in: General News

As you may be aware Argyll and Bute Social Enterprise Network previously gathered feedback and undertook survey analysis with members over the past 8 years.  This year, it was possible to build on this work by making links with the national social enterprise census.  The Social Value Lab were engaged to undertake further research and analysis to produce a report mapping social enterprise in Argyll and Bute.  The report provides robust information to assist the newly merged TSI, partner organisations and agencies to support the growth and development of social enterprise in Argyll and Bute and to work with enterprises to continue to develop and deliver innovative solutions to issues and aspirations in the communities of Argyll.

Download a copy of the report (PDF) for your information and for wider distribution.
However to give you a flavour, here are some of the headlines:

Social enterprises come in many shapes and sizes. Most social enterprises in Argyll and Bute are small (43%) or medium (28%) in size with a turnover of less than £100K.

The social enterprise sector makes a substantial contribution to the Argyll and Bute economy.

The sector has a combined income of almost £40.7m, a spending power of £38.7.8m and total assets of £15.1m.

Social enterprises in Argyll and Bute own a variety of assets. Four in five of surveyed social enterprises (82%) own their own equipment whilst more than half (53%) own premises. Almost a third (32%) owns land and 29% own a vehicle of some sorts.

The social enterprise sector supports an estimated 1,795 jobs[1], which makes it a serious generator of employment, comparable to sectors as transport, manufacturing and construction.

Social enterprises aim to be good employers that promote equality, healthy working conditions and fair pay. (75%) of social enterprises pay at least the National Living Wage (£7.85).   (18%) of social enterprises in Argyll and Bute now explicitly target recruitment at people or groups disadvantaged in the labour market.

Although austerity measures and limited resources have affected social enterprises, over a quarter of social enterprises (27%) reported an increase in paid staff within their business. 54% stated there have been no recent changes in staff levels and 8% reported a decrease in paid staff.

Excluding board/committee members, there are an estimated 1,411 active volunteers that work in Argyll and Bute’s social enterprises.

Almost three in five social enterprises (59%) surveyed have benefitted from ABSEN support in 2014-2015. A variety of other support agencies and bodies have also been accessed as demonstrated in the figure below.

Over three quarters of social enterprises in Argyll in Bute are incorporated in some form (76%) with  (71%), having charitable status.


‘Social enterprise’ has a variety of meanings and definitions for different organisations and perhaps because of this, some do not identify as such. However, almost two-thirds of the organisations (65%) identified as social enterprises do classify themselves as such.

Almost three quarters of Argyll and Bute social enterprises (74%) are less than 15 years old. Just over one in ten (11%) has existed for 55 years or longer.

The vast majority of social enterprises (83%) are active in within Argyll and Bute, with almost half of them (49%) focusing on business and service provision for their local area.  However, market horizons appear to be widening and a new wave of ambitious outward looking social enterprises are forming.

Spread across Argyll and Bute

Social enterprises provide goods and services that tackle social, economic and environmental issues and thus strengthen communities and change lives.

Argyll and Bute’s social enterprises operate in a variety of sectors. Community centres and halls (19.7%), land, property and energy (13.9%), arts and creative industries (10.2%), manufacturing (8.2%) and childcare (7.8%) are the main sectors that social enterprises are most active in.

Top 6 social / environmental objectives:

Social enterprises in Argyll and Bute serve multiple customer groups. Over half (53%) are providing services and trading with the public sector, whilst one in two (50%) are servicing the private sector and over a third (37%) provide goods or services to the third sector. Almost three-quarters (74%) offer provisions and services to the general public.

When asked who would provide services if you were unavailable, approximately 69% of social enterprises in Argyll and Bute answered no one, which suggests that social enterprises are operating within gaps in the market.

Financial Strength

In total the sector earns an estimated £14.6m per year from trading.

Total income of the social enterprises in Argyll and Bute is estimated at £40.7m whilst expenditure is approximately £38.7m. The total profit is therefore thought to be around £2m (including housing associations there was a profit of £7.6m).  The net assets of the sector amount to £42.4m (including housing associations £64.8m).

The main barrier reported by social enterprises (62%) in Argyll and Bute was a lack of time or a capacity to develop trading potential.

Even within the context of austerity, there are some encouraging expectations for the future. The sector expects demand and income to rise and social enterprises are very much open to further collaboration.

The report demonstrates the size, scale and impact of the social enterprise sector in Argyll and highlights further opportunities to support social enterprises to address local and area wide priorities, such as declining population and challenges of service delivery.

·        Information gathered from the data available from the Company Register (Companies House) and the Charity Register (OSCR) a comprehensive long-list of potential social enterprises was composed.

By reducing double entries, applying our social enterprise selection criteria and financial data from the organisation’s annual accounts (where available) the list was reduced to a definite list of social enterprises in various states of development.  An in-depth financial analysis was conducted of the annual accounts and the other financial data gathered to establish a set of financial ratios covering profitability, earned income, self-sufficiency, liquidity, reserves, assets, etc. Because their large size and economic impact Housing Associations are excluded from any financial analysis in this study, however there are 6 Registered Social Landlords based within Argyll and Bute. A total of 81 social enterprises submitted information and views relating to their scale, characteristics, geographic reach, barriers, and prospects through both surveys to either the ABSEN Annual Survey or National Social Enterprise Census. 

View the full report here (PDF).

[1] Employment figures for other sectors are from NOMIS Labour Market Profile – Argyll and Bute, Employee Jobs by Industry (2014).