Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2019


The Social Enterprise Census 2019 is a bi-annual, comprehensive account of social enterprise activity in Scotland. The project reports on the scale, reach and contribution of social enterprise activity across the country and forms part of a 10-year commitment by the Scottish Government to track the development of the sector.


Key facts at a glance

  • 6,025 SE in Scotland
  • 88,318 FTE employees in the sector
  • £2.3bn Gross Value Added to the Scottish economy
  • £4.4bn total annual income
  • £3.1bn earned income from trade

SFS is particularly interested in the role of social enterprise plays in employment/employability, particularly for people with significant barriers to employment/complex support needs.  The Census once again highlights the significant contribution SE makes to economic and social inclusion for often vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals.

  • 75% pay at least the living wage to employees
  • 79% of SE employ more than half with workforce from area(s) in which the SE is based
  • 69% employ previously unemployed people
  • 55% employ someone with a disability or long term health condition
  • 56% of SE employ young people under 25 years and 42% employ young people that were previously unemployed
  • 69% provide training or support intended to improve employability
  • 31% have ‘providing training for employment’ as one of their main organisational goals


Full Report
Summary Report
Key Facts 2019

Pauine Graham, CEO, Social Firms Scotland said “It’s really encouraging to see a continued upward trend in the sector’s growth across Scotland both in terms of numbers and trading income.

The importance of the sector’s contribution to employment and training features strongly in the Census and 79% of social enterprises employ at least half of their workforce from the local labour pool.  In terms of diversity and inclusion across the workforce, the Census reveals that 55% of social enterprises employ someone with a disability or long term health condition, 69% employ previously unemployed people and 31% report providing training to support employability. This is encouraging – although it can’t be ignored that a number of business challenges remain regarding an uncertain economic climate, access to grant funding and an uncertain political climate. The Census data will hopefully inform some of the key priority areas in the forthcoming SE Action Plan to address some of these challenges.”

The Social Enterprise Census is a project led by CEiS as part of a wide-ranging partnership initiative.  Carried out with financial support from Scottish Government, the report has been researched and produced by Social Value Lab.

Social Firms Scotland is proud to have been part of the Social Enterprise Census Steering Group providing support and input to the report.