The Social Economy in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland was the first part of the UK to have an explicit policy on the development of the social economy. That policy arose directly from my 2001 report on the Social Economy in Northern Ireland. As a result of the recommendations of that report the Northern Ireland Executive accepted a common definition of the social economy and put in place structures across Departments and agencies to inform and shape policy in relation to the social economy.
The definition of the social economy is based on 3 characteristics
1. a social, community or ethical purpose
2. an explicit business model, and
3. a legal structure which ensures that the benefits of the business activity go to society, not to individuals.
The Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment has established a Social Economy Unit and a set of web pages at the Departmentís website provides further information about social economy policy in Northern Ireland. The Departmentís website is at www.detini.gov.uk
The 2001 Social Economy Policy Review papers can be accessed here.
In early 2004 the Social Economy Forum (one of the structures put in place as a result of the 2001 Report) agreed terms of reference for a review of finance for the social economy in Northern Ireland. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment commissioned the Review on behalf of the Forum and the work was overseen by a Steering Group made up of members of the sector as well as government officials.
The 2004 Finance for the Social Economy papers can be accessed here.