Social enterprises and other organisations can have substantial effects on the economic situations of individuals, households and communities. Increasing personal or household incomes through jobs is one very direct way, but other ways of influencing people’s economic situations include increasing people’s access to public benefits; providing goods or services that individuals would otherwise have needed to pay for, and giving people access to affordable credit.
In addition to influencing outcomes for individuals, organisations may also have a wider impact on the overall local economy. For example, if a social enterprise chose to source most of its goods and services locally, it might help other local businesses thrive and keep money circulating in the local economy. The New Economics Foundation calls this idea ‘local money flows’ and measures what it calls the ‘multiplier effect’.
Who might use these indicators?
The indicator of local economic impact, LM3, can be useful for all organisations in an area in need of, or undergoing, regeneration. Some of the indicators, e.g. around decreasing expenditure, will be useful for social enterprises that provide goods or services to people in need. Others, such as credit unions, will have a role in increasing financial literacy, decreasing people’s risk of problem debt or default, and increasing savings. These factors are listed below.
Economic indicators at the individual level:
- Anti-poverty benefit uptake
- Improved/increase in salary or wage
- Improved work-related benefits
Decreasing individual or household expenditure
- Providing essentials below market cost or free
- Lower proportion of income spent on the items provided than before
- Increase in resources for other necessities
- Increase in disposable income/ income for discretionary items
Decrease individual/ household risk of problem debt/ default
- Uptake of low-interest loan alternatives to sub-prime lending (at community level)
- Decrease in uptake of sub-prime lending (community level)
- Individuals decrease use of sub-prime lending
- Individuals debt burdens decrease
Increase individual or household savings
- Uptake of savings products/accounts
- Increase in level of savings
- More frequent savings contributions
- Retirement savings, or long-term savings
Economic indicators at the local level:
- Increase financial literacy initiatives
- Increase number of people involved with financial literacy initiatives
- Increase access to financial services (e.g. savings, cash machines, low-interest loans)
- Measurements of uptake of financial services
Increase resources in the local economy
- Amount an organisation spends on supplies (goods and services) in its local area
- Amount the organisation’s suppliers spend in the local area
- See LM3