The Deputy Minister was speaking at a conference organised by Neath Port Talbot Council for Voluntary Service to raise the profile of social enterprises as a way of delivering local services. The conference is one of many events being held across Wales to celebrate Enterprise Week 2007.
Leighton Andrews said:
Enterprise Week gives us an opportunity to showcase social enterprise and draw attention to the diverse range of activities that are undertaken throughout Wales. We want to empower people so that they can contribute more fully and effectively to improving their communities.
Social enterprises offer a huge range of services, operating in fields as diverse as childcare, arts centres, crime prevention, sustainable tourism, food production and food distribution, furniture recycling, the provision of housing, and health and social care to name but a few.
They provide us with an alternative model of doing business which is driven by a powerful need to meet social or environmental objectives.
We are committed to delivering a strong, thriving social enterprise sector in Wales. However we need to know more about its nature, dynamics and scale, its role in economic productivity, its contribution to the delivery of public services and its social and environmental benefits. More also needs to be known about its investment and financing needs. A UK wide long-term study being conducted through the Economic and Social Research Council will help us build an evidence base.
The Deputy Minister said that the Assembly Government is committed to strengthening the framework of financial and asset related support available to new and expanding social enterprises.
We need to consider how we can make it easier for public assets to be transferred to communities and social enterprises. I have asked officials to do some initial work on this and should be in a position to engage with the sector in the New Year.
The Deputy Minister added that the Welsh Assembly Government would review and update its own Social Enterprise strategy which was launched in 2005.
We acknowledge that the sector has expertise and experience that we need to draw on and we recognise the vital role that this sector has to play in the regeneration of our communities.
It is important that we continue to raise awareness of the best our communities have to offer in terms of sustainable regeneration through economic activity.
Enterprise Week is an annual UK-wide week of activities and events, aimed at encouraging young people (14-30) to have ideas and make them happen. This can be by starting up a new business or social enterprise, or by having ideas and making them happen in the workplace.
15 November 2007