April 6, 2020
Last updated on April 6, 2020
The proven capacity of the social enterprise sector to create jobs for some of the most vulnerable people means it will it play a critical role in the recovery from the coronavirus (C-19) outbreak.
Targeted support for social enterprises during the current crisis is therefore critical, according to Social Traders, an intermediary that connects social enterprises to government and business.
“The social enterprise sector supports the most vulnerable, employing an estimated 60,000 people in Victoria alone, many from disadvantaged communities ,” said Social Traders Managing Director David Brookes.
“Our economy and communities cannot afford thousands of people falling back into poverty. Social enterprise has a unique role in providing supported pathways to work for the many people who will find it difficult to easily transition back into the labour market.
“The impact of a vulnerable person falling out of the workforce is much more significant than the impact on someone who isn’t disadvantaged.
“They are much more likely to remain unemployed for longer, they will lead a subsistence existence without financial reserves to draw on and they will be much more likely to have reduced life expectancy.
“This is why it’s critical to support the sector now. Those experiencing disadvantage who have made their way out of poverty are actually the most important group to retain in the labour force in bad times.
“Building a social enterprise to scale can take a decade or more and requires significant human and capital investment.
“It is critical that tailored financial assistance for retention of these businesses flows now rather than rebuilding from scratch in 12 months’ time, knowing that it will take many years and considerably more investment for them to recover.
“They need to be there in 3 and 6 months, in the C-19 recovery phase, so they can support those most at risk.
“We urge Governments at all levels to respond to the pressing cashflow needs that many social enterprises are facing right now, otherwise the long term economic and social cost will be far greater.”
Brookes added that while Government support was vital, continuing to buy from social enterprise was now more important than ever.
“While everyone is doing it tough and things are far from normal, it is critical that social procurement spending is not neglected – otherwise those most at-risk will suffer.”
“Governments around Australia are increasingly recognising the significant value that the social enterprise sector contributes to local, state and national economies and our communities. Let’s ensure that they don’t miss out on the economic and financial assistance measures being provided to the broader business sector.”
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