Liverpool should position itself as an international “social city region”, according to a major new report by the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice.
Among the Institute’s recommendations is the the creation of a land bank database of all publicly-owned assets to help community groups bid on properties or challenge their sale.
The Institute found that in Liverpool alone, there are 696 social organisations, employing 18,500 people, generating £1.5 billion of revenue and holding net assets worth £2.9bn.
Across the whole city region, there are 1,400 social organisations, accounting for 2.2% of all registered companies.
The report authors define the social economy as charities, social enterprises, cooperatives and self-help initiatives that produce and distribute goods and services.
The Institute’s Dr Alan Southern and Dr Matt Thompson, alongside social investor, Helen Heap of Seebohm Hill, analysed the scale, scope and value of the social economy to the region between October 2016 and June 2017.
Dr Southern says: “There is clearly huge potential for the Liverpool City Region social economy to generate jobs, and to offer solutions in helping resolve the region’s many challenges, if given the right support from government, the necessary governance capacity and the tools to help it grow.”
To help support the development of a thriving social economy, the report urges policy makers to adopt what they call a “3G Approach”, which stands for government, governance and growth.
According to the report, to provide effective governance, a number of networks should be established serving community anchor organisations and procurement practice, alongside a digital platform that allows peer-to-peer interaction between users and stakeholders.
For growth, the report recommends the establishment of a Social Economy Fund, to provide financial infrastructure; a Social Economy Database, to build up city region ‘solidarity markets’; and a Social Economy Framework, which could consider how to invest a proposed 1% of local authority procurement budgets into a public service innovation seed fund.
Policy makers are also urged to consider how to replicate the success of Baltic Creative CIC and Beautiful Ideas Co. as well as renting out publicly-owned buildings at pepper-corn rates to social organisations.