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Scottish minister says independence would boost third sector

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Independence would allow Scotland to further promote social enterprises, a senior minister has said.

Sustainable growth secretary John Swinney said greater powers would allow the country to work even closer with third sector bodies.

Mr Swinney will this week tell delegates at a conference in Oslo about what he described as ‘the Scottish model’ of boosting social enterprise.

He said Scotland had focused on encouraging community organisations for some years – but that a yes vote in the independence referendum in September would allow it to go even further.

Mr Swinney said: “Scotland has been recognised as the best place in the world to start a social enterprise and there is increasing international interest in what some are calling the ‘Scottish Model’.

“Our work to create an environment where social enterprise can thrive is part of a revolution in the delivery of services, of government and in building successful businesses that has been taking place across the country.

“We have achieved a lot with the powers we have but with the powers that independence would give us – over welfare, taxation and the economy – we can do even more to support the third sector and promote its growth, effectiveness and sustainability for years to come.”

There are up to 4,000 social enterprises in Scotland, and the sector is said to be growing.

The Scottish Government is pushing two pieces of legislation through Parliament in a bid to make it easier for councils to buy services from social groups. The Procurement Reform Bill and the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill are both expected to boost the sector.

A spokesman for the Supporting Social Enterprise Alliance said the third sector had a big role in public service delivery north of the border.

“Social enterprise in Scotland is fortunate to operate within a uniquely supportive business environment. A political commitment to putting citizens first is now offering social enterprise a crucial role in the design and delivery of public services,” he said. 

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