One in 20 UK workers part of 'hidden revolution' to reform capitalism

by Lee Mannion | @leemannion | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:40 GMT

People walk through the financial district of Canary Wharf, London, Britain 28 September 2017. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

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Britain has the world's largest social enterprise sector, which supports entrepreneurs seeking to provide sustainable help to vulnerable people - by making a profit

By Lee Mannion

LONDON, Sept 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - One in 20 British workers - or 2 million people - have jobs with firms that seek to do good while also earning a profit, research showed on Wednesday, dubbing it a "hidden revolution".

Social enterprises also contribute 60 billion pounds ($79 billion) to the world's fifth largest economy - 150 percent higher than the previous estimate of 24 billion pounds, said Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), which represents the sector.

"There are ... socially driven businesses operating in every community and they're not always little community cafes," Dan Gregory, co-author of SEUK's report, called "The Hidden Revolution", told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"They are sometimes massive businesses making a difference to millions of people ... The contribution is much bigger than the government has been estimating."

Britain has the world's largest social enterprise sector, according to the UK government, which supports entrepreneurs seeking to provide sustainable help to vulnerable people - by making a profit, instead of relying on grants like charities.

The industry is lobbying for more support, from tax breaks to teaching school children about social enterprises, following last month's release of a strategy which could see ethical firms win more public sector contracts.

With 2 million workers - double the previous estimate - Britain's 100,000 social enterprises employ as many people as its creative industries, SEUK said.

Figures rose after SEUK expanded its research to include larger companies, including the Nationwide Building Society, Britain's second largest mortgage provider, and the mutually-owned supermarkets-to-funerals Co-Operative Group.

It defined social enterprises as organisations with an enshrined social or environmental aim, which principally use their profits to achieve those goals.

"We believe this is just the beginning," the report said.

"Reforming capitalism to ensure that our economy works for all is at the top of the political agenda, and we believe the social enterprise sector holds the key."

($1 = 0.7611 pounds) (Reporting by Lee Mannion @leemannion; Editing by Katy Migiro. (Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit

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