Lack of a Minister leaves Social Enterprise and Social Economy without accountability

With a new government comes opportunities to make a difference. With the largest capital project in Ireland including social benefit clauses, social economy programmes across Europe accelerating, and social impact measurement focussing on outcomes based approaches to health and well being of our population, it is with deep regret that we see no renewal of the Minister for Social Enterprise post.

Across Europe, the social economy is made of 2 million enterprises, representing 10% of all European enterprises, and employ over 14 million paid employees (the equivalent of 6.5% of the working population in the EU). Europe is seeing significant progress in implementing social economy policies that spur social enterprise including new social financing methods and crucially social enterprise legal forms.

Ireland has not progressed on providing support for the sector. A report commissioned in 2013 has yet to be realised and excludes provisions on social enterprise legal formation and methods for creating a positive social enterprise environment.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has released his junior ministry posts which leave those communities seeking ways to meet social benefit clauses with community owned enterprises without direction or opportunity for support. A fundamental change is needed. A post needs to be created with a budget and civil service backing to create a fundamental change in this narrative.

We hope that there will be a chance to move forward on social enterprise development, but without naming a successor to our previous Ministers, this government is showing a complete lack of support for a crucial job creating sector.

Opinion: Chris MM Gordon, Chair, Irish Social Enterprise Network

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