UK’s social businesses pump £1.3 billion profits back into society

17 Feb 2016

Latest figures from the NatWest SE100 Index reveal exciting growth despite the continuing austerity in the UK.

  • 1, 244 organisations surveyed in 2015 with total combined turnover of £10.4 billion and an average growth in turnover of 80%.
  • Top 100 fastest growers achieve SE100 record-breaking 951% average growth in turnover.
  • £1.3bn in recorded profits in the most recent financial year.

New figures released today by the NatWest SE100 index highlight impressive growth from the UK’s social enterprise sector this year, with an average growth in turnover of 80%.

Now in its sixth year, this unique index tracks the growth and performance of the UK’s social enterprises. In 2015, the Index collected data from 1, 244 social ventures, and discovered that they had collectively pumped £1.3 billion of profits back into society.

The latest NatWest SE100 data report, published today, shows that the social enterprise sector continues to grow at an impressive rate – last year, the average growth in turnover was 72%, and this year, the figure has risen to 80%.

The Index’s top 100 fastest growers achieved a staggering 951% growth, bringing the average growth rate over the past three years to 824%. These figures far outstrip average sales growth posted by Britain’s top 100 private companies, who managed an average growth figure of 65% over the past three years.

Although there are some relative giants on the SE100 Index, posting turnovers in the tens of millions, the median turnover this year is £144,000, climbing from £134, 000 the previous year.

Start your own social business on our Start Up programme

On the 10th anniversary of the Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs), the index also highlights the success of the CIC as a legal structure for social ventures, with 57% of enterprises on the index registered as CICs.

CICs registered on the index are generally smaller and faster growing than other types of enterprise. Today, 92% of CICs on the Index have a turnover of £1million or less, but have achieved an average growth of 102%.

The report signifies that despite continuing austerity in the UK, 2015 was still an exciting year for the UK’s social enterprise movement.  The sector continues to be dynamic and has a big collective impact on both society and the UK economy.

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said: “Social enterprises are the lifeblood of communities up and down the country. They tackle social challenges while contributing to economic growth, making them hugely popular with both consumers and investors. The SE100 Index is a benchmark which encourages innovation in the sector so that their great work in building a compassionate society can continue long into the future.”

Mark Parsons, Head of Community Finance and Social Enterprise, NatWest, said: “This report shows that social enterprises across the country are generating significant profits whilst having a powerful impact on their communities. The 80% average growth in turnover in the sector is hugely impressive, while the performance of the top 100 in the Index shows that there are some incredible high-growth social businesses out there – transforming economies and lives at the same time.  NatWest has been a proud supporter of the UK social enterprise sector over the past 20 years.  For some growing social enterprises, finance can still be a barrier to growth – but alternative financing options, such as our Social & Community Capital charity, can help them further their ambitions.”