The Wheel Calls for Government Action to Unlock the Potential of the Social Economy

Posted on 12 Sep 2022 Last updated on 18 Sep 2022

The Wheel, the national association of charities and social enterprises, has called on the Government to prioritise policies that will boost social enterprise and support Ireland’s burgeoning social economy.

The policy recommendations are contained in a new report, Unlocking the Social Economy, Supporting Social Enterprise: A Platform for Progress, which was launched in Clones Co. Monaghan today. The report frames the social enterprise landscape within the wider social economy in Ireland and the EU.

Speaking at the event, Deirdre Garvey CEO of The Wheel said, Across the world, social enterprises have been pioneers in identifying and implementing social innovations and alternative ways of organising economic activities, for example, the fair trade and organic food movements, and ethical finance. It is part of our heritage and, importantly, it is essential to a future economy that works for people and the planet.

"We call on the Government to create the conditions for social economy organisations to operate and to be treated equally and introduce support measures to enable access to information, finance, markets, technology, infrastructure, and well-regulated and socially responsible public procurement, especially for disadvantaged groups and persons in vulnerable situations,” said Deirdre Garvey.

The Wheel’s recommendations for the Government include:

  • Enabling social enterprises to access existing business, finance, and other supports
  • Creating a comprehensive social enterprise training framework
  • Ensuring public procurement works to include, not exclude, social enterprise
  • Raising public awareness
  • Committing to sustained data collection on the impact of the social economy
  • Supporting the green and digital transformation of the social economy
  • Active engagement by Government in implementing the EU Action Plan.

Ireland’s social economy sector reaches into and impacts all areas of our lives. There are more than 11,500 registered charities, mobilising over 300,000 volunteers, with more than 160,000 workers. In 2019, the Irish nonprofit sector turned over an estimated €13.9 billion, of which 44% - less than half (€6.2 billion) - came from the Government. The sector is comparable in size to the tourism sector.

Deirdre Garvey continued, “We need to move from the economic and social model that rewards the individual at the expense of society to one that puts the community at its heart and fosters our responsibility to each other and our communities. This change must be integrated into all aspects of the economy at every level, including our business models.”

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