Boost for LCR’s £2.9bn socially-trading sector

A new expert advisory panel of leaders from socially-trading organisations across the Liverpool City Region has been launched this week.

The Social and Solidarity Economy Reference Panel will advise Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Combined Authority policymakers on how to maximise the contribution of the burgeoning social sector as the city region economy recovers from the effects of Covid-19.

The sector supports 50,000 jobs locally and generates £2.9 billion in income a year for the local economy yet, until now, its contribution to the city region has often been overshadowed by a focus on the commercial sector.

Boosting the community and social sector has been identified as a key part of the city region’s economic recovery plan and the Panel will provide a vital voice for the sector moving forward.

The establishment of the panel follows last month’s commitment of £6.5 million of Combined Authority funding to establish Kindred, a social investment vehicle that aims to support the growth of the social economy in the Liverpool City Region. The sector has also seen nearly £2 million distributed to community organisations since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, through the LCR Cares Fund.

Launching the Panel, Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:

“Our region’s social and solidarity economy has long been an underappreciated success story in our region, employing 50,000 people and generating nearly £3bn in economic and social value every year.

“Unfortunately, this success has too often been overlooked because of a focus on the commercial sector. Since I was elected, I’ve been working to rebalance this, with a greater emphasis placed on organisations that are at the heart of their communities.

“I do not want our third sector to feel overlooked or ignored. It is the reason I have been working closely with them to support our communities through the past few months and to help draw up my plans for our region’s recovery in the post-pandemic world.

“I’m launching this panel to ensure that the social and solidarity economy will always have a strong voice and input that should help see the sector flourish and grow in the years ahead.”

Councillor Kate Groucutt, Deputy Portfolio Holder for Inclusive Economy and Third Sector at the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said:

“Our community organisations and social businesses are on the frontline across the city region, delivering innovative services and providing jobs and opportunities for thousands of people.

“These organisations are also supporting local priorities and working in partnerships across all six of our local authorities. Through this new Panel we will make sure the voice of the sector is heard and that the Metro Mayor and other political leaders understand what more we can do to support its growth in the future.”

Saba Ahmed, Community Development Worker for Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre, Liverpool, said:

“Kuumba Imani is pleased to have representation on the Social and Solidarity Economy Reference Panel. It follows on from the work it has been involved in for the last 16 years in terms of encouraging understanding, partnership working and collaboration between individuals in communities and the sectors.

“This new Panel represents the beginning of a new era in which our sector’s voice is heard alongside other sectors of the economy and which will enable us to come together to fully realise the contribution our sector can make to economic recovery for all our communities.”

Ben Osu, Strategy Lead at the Anthony Walker Foundation and anti-racism campaigner, said:

“At the age of 18, I organised for the MOBO Awards to be held in Liverpool, along with a community outreach programme for young people across the city. The event brought in £5m into the local economy.

“This demonstrates the entrepreneurial power of our sector, to not only benefit our communities through the work we do, but to deliver a tangible economic benefit at the same time.

“The establishment of the Social and Solidarity Economy Reference Panel marks a major step forward in our voice being heard and in making an even greater contribution to the future of our city region.”

Helen Heap, social investor and the founder and CEO of Seebohm Hill Ltd, a Liverpool-based social investment consultancy, said:

“The LCR Social and Solidarity Economy Reference Panel connects the Metro Mayor and Combined Authority to some of the organisations and individuals who play a key part in delivering an inclusive economy for our region. The Panel provides an opportunity for members of the social economy to shape policy, tackle health and wellbeing inequalities and drive economic growth for all.”