Key role for rural social enterprise

SOCIAL enterprise can play a key role in providing rural services across England, says a report.

Rural social enterprises address some of the most entrenched issues affecting rural communities, the study finds.

Many of these relate to the Rural Community Policy Unit's priorities – including rural services, housing, broadband, fuel poverty and uplands.

Rural social enterprises addressing these issues include community-owned shops, community transport, community land trusts and broadband enterprises.

Published by DEFRA and undertaken by the Plunkett Foundation, the study is a comprehensive analysis of rural social enterprise.

The full document can be downloaded here.

Just under 60% of social enterprises surveyed served rural communities.

Despite this, rural serving social enterprises are more likely to be located within urban areas rather than rural communities.

Rural serving social enterprises, like their urban counterparts aim to mak a social and or environmental impact on the communities that they serve.

Rural serving social enterprises are diverse both in terms of the focus of their enterprise and the scale of their operation.

Finance and funding is a barrier to growth for over 50% of rural serving social enterprises surveyed, says the study.

"This relates to both the financial performance of the business and their ability to raise finance from different sources," says the document.

"This could also be considered a sign that rural serving social enterprises are keen to develop their service, improve their offering and expand significantly."

Finance is a clear need when considering these plans., states the study.


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