Action plan for Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter published

iSE has just published the results of the first social enterprise survey undertaken in the Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter, along with the Quarter’s first action plan.  The two reports are available here.

Survey results — headlines 

The survey revealed that there are over 50 social enterprises in Digbeth and the surrounding area with a combined turnover of between £15m and £20m. The sector is characterised by small and relatively young enterprises:

  • 60% employ fewer than six staff.
  • 52% turn over less than £100,000 a year.
  • 64% have been trading for less than ten years.
  • Over 21% were set up in the last three years.


Over 20 trade sectors are represented in Digbeth alone. The four most heavily populated sectors are:

  • Education & training 58%
  • Youth services 30%
  • Arts, culture & heritage 33%
  • Community development & regeneration 33%

The use of voluntary effort emerges as a key factor in how many social enterprises unlock additional social value. 82% of social enterprises in Digbeth depend on the contributions of volunteers in various aspects of their work with around 970 volunteers  donating over 7,000 hours every month – some 84,000 hours a year. If this voluntary labour were valued only at the West Midlands average hourly wage, it would be worth almost £883,000 a year.

Action plan

The survey has been used to inform the DSEQ action plan. This marks an exciting new approach to social enterprise development not just in Digbeth but in Birmingham.

Over the next three years, the DSEQ plan will prioritise activities that will have a real impact. Priorities include:

  • Helping SEs in Digbeth access the HS2 supply chain.
  • Creating training and employment opportunities for local people in social enterprises.
  • Promoting Digbeth as the Social Enterprise Quarter of Birmingham, developing its membership offer and continuing to research and plan development over the next three years.
  • Providing access to premises, hot-desking and meeting rooms.
  • Improving the visual appearance of Digbeth, including identifying a high profile clean-up or environmental campaign which can unite the local community.
  • Business support to address issues of growth for SEs and the provision of start-up support.
  • Access to resources, including sponsorship deals, EU funds, special project resources.
  • Partnership development, including targeted work with local Housing Associations, schools and local businesses, and continued work with Birmingham City Council officers to ensure that the DSEQ is embedded in BCC policy, strategy and priorities.


Read more about these exciting new developments in social enterprise development.


Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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