There is a bewildering array of policies, concepts, missions and announcements in the Levelling Up report. Is the glass half full? We welcome some of the overarching ambition around ‘levelling up’ – the core concept and the ideas around improving education, public transport and digital innovation seem sound. The idea to use £44 million – and possibly up to £880 million – of dormant assets for social enterprise development is promising.
However, in three hundred and thirty two pages we found just four references to social enterprise and none to community business or co-operatives. We think more needs to be done around driving a change in the way we do business in the UK. We’d like to see the government stress that we need all companies to put social and environmental purpose first to really level up the country.
For the social enterprise community in Plymouth to see the part of the report focussing on our region pretty much just listing previous announcements was disappointing. Devolution of powers to our area is a good idea but we are unsure of the value of a joint mayor. All that said, PSEN is keen to work with local and national partners to help our local area become more socially enterprising and more equal, with zero poverty and zero carbon emissions.
Our mission is to advocate and represent a better way of working in the region, supporting social enterprises in all their forms, be they Community Interest Companies, Community Businesses, Cooperatives or trading charities. We know that, collectively, the social enterprise community can achieve meaningful change and improvement for Plymouth and the surrounding area. The Levelling Up report is an important context for that.