A new report from Social Finance has revealed new findings about the current state and scope of the community business sector. “What if we ran it ourselves? Getting the measure of Britain’s emerging community business sector” finds that there are around 4,500 community businesses in England and Wales, with a combined income of £800m a year and assets of £1 billion. These community businesses employ around 24,000 staff and engage nearly 120,000 volunteers.
The report authors remark that whilst community business is a familiar idea, it is a concept that has only recently gained traction at a national level. A constellation of factors have helped engineer this, including new community rights, the growth of community entrepreneurs and increases in Council asset transfers in the context of an unprecedented fiscal squeeze. The launch of the Power to Change presents an opportune moment to bring coherence to a highly diverse set of organisations. It is in that context that this report assesses the nature, scale, scope, impact, and financing and support needs of the community business sector.
Richard Handover, Chair of the Power to Change, said: “This report demonstrates that community businesses have a truly exciting opportunity to transform the lives of people and communities. The power to change is shifting from government and private business to local people, acting together for the benefit of each other and the public spaces they share.”
The report presents the findings of research commissioned by the Power to Change in 2014 to Social Finance and The Young Foundation, helping the new independent charitable trust to understand where the Power to Change resources are best deployed to develop and grow community businesses, and how our support and funding should be structured in the future.