25 May 2017
As someone who understands what it’s like to be on the public stage, I know it can be a difficult time to be a politician at the moment. I also know what a huge responsibility it is that you have chosen to take on and you have my utmost respect. The small experience I have had of witnessing the work of people like yourself who have chosen to serve the public leaves me truly humbled and inspired. Only a few have the courage to step forward on behalf of the rest of us. Thank you.
Yet all of us have a choice to make. We can choose to abandon people and places left behind. Or we can offer our hands across divides, bringing communities together to take back control over our social and economic destiny. I know that community groups, social enterprises and co-operative businesses are already building the foundations for a new, more inclusive economy, where no place or person is forgotten. If elected, I know you can build on this work, helping communities shape their own, positive responses to the challenges we face. So I am asking you to take a few minutes to learn more about the power of the social economy and how you can help release this potential.
Community groups, co-operatives, social enterprises and charities are worth tens of billions of pounds to the UK economy. Civil society organisations employ 7% of the UK workforce – the same as the creative industries. 17.5 million people own and control our 7,000 co-ops. Local charities and social enterprises own more than £1bn worth of assets. The social economy is a great British success story, and this has been achieved with minimal support from successive Governments.
As part of this election campaign, the Social Economy Alliance has published a “Manifesto for Inclusive Growth”. There is some overlap with your vision and some of our specific ideas support your broad ambitions – on jobs, the economy, public services and across communities. I hope that you will read this short manifesto, tell others about it on social media, in constituencies, and in the corridors of power. If elected, I hope that you will champion our common cause.
Michael Sheen, Patron of Social Enterprise UK