Development of the social economy is was and still is one of the priorities in public policies in Poland, especially in term of the fight against social exclusion.

It is seen in strategic documents accepted on national, regional and also local levels but most of all in the significant amount of money available from the European Social Found in the financial perpective 2014-2020.

But are the strategic documents implemented? Whether the money spent yielded the expected results ? Did the condition of social economy sector improve?

For the opinion about condition of social economy in Silesia Region we asked Mrs Iwona Piątkowska-Lipka – the deputy manager of  social economy departament in The Regional Centre for Social Policy of the Silesian Voivodship – instutition responsible for implementing “The regional social economy development program in the Silesia  Voivodship until 2020” and coordination of the project “Cooperation pays off – the coordination of the social economy sector in the Silesia Voivodship” .

Anna Pomykoł: Your Institution prepared in cooperation with The Support Centres of Social Economy (OWES) an interesting report about the condition of the social economy sector in the Silesia Voivodship, what in your opinion are the strengths and weakest of the sector in our region?

Iwona Piątkowska-Lipka: on the side od strenghts I would underline a fact that social economy development are included in regional startegic documents, second of all bigger number of The Support Centres of Social Economy (OWES) in our region comparing to previouse financing percpective (2007-2013) – now we have 6 OWES what allows to reach bigger target groups and provide more relavant and available on the spot support for potencial social enterpreneurs. Next positive side is a fact that a lot of events dedicated to social economy are happening in our region like: seminars, conferances, education and promotion event both on regional and local level and in result more partnerships dedicated to create new social enterprises or support existing ones are established. We can also observe a higher percentage of public tasks outsourced to social enterprieses and rising number of NGOs with potential for economization. Since last few years also the number of social cooperatives is stable (meaning that some of them are dissappearing from the market but other are created). And last point that I would underline is a very good cooperation with Social Welfare Centers in terms of passing their clients to OWES where a significant number of people at risk of social exclusion, have been trained in the social economy topic and familair with the opportunities this sector gives them.

Weaknesses in turn, I can see is a fact that without support from European Social Found new social enterprises are not created also problematic is the little interest of decison makers in promoting social enterpreneurship. Next weakness is unequal development of the social economy in the region (the largest number of social economy entities are functioning in the central subregion of the voivodship) as well a fact that low percentage of local government using social clauses in public procurments or other instruments in the area of social economy. Moreover in our region we don’t have  federations or clusters of social enterprises, we rather can see small local partnerships but no regional institution gathering the sector of social economy entities. Last but not least point would be low level of business involvment in coopertion with the social economy sector.

Anna Pomykoł: As one of the weaknesses you mentioned low percentage of local government using social clauses in public procurments or other available instruments as well low interest of decision makers in promoting the social economy could you be more detailed and present your opinion about readiness of local governments to be an important stakeholder in the field of social economy.

Iwona Piątkowska-Lipka: The level of understanding and interest in the idea of social economy among local authorities is very much diversified in the region. There are local governments that take a number of initiatives to support the development of the sector ex.  establishin new social enterprises, support existing one by outsource the task to them, apply social clauses, and there are those that did not express any interest in participating in events promoting and explaining the idea of social economy. The percentage of municipalities that include themes of social economy to its startegic documents in the whole voivodship is still not satisfactory – the inclusion confirmed only 19.8% of municipalities – what is showing the level of knowledge and interest in the subject by the rulers.

Anna Pomykoł: Continuing the topic of public procurements and social clauses I know that in the end of 2015 your institution was the coordinator of a very interesting competition for local governments and other legal entities obliged to implement public procurement law called “Social clauses to start”.  The aim of the competition was the choice of three entities, which in 2015 in the highest degree applied social clauses in public procurement procedures. Did the competition conifrmed the”sad scenario”  or was a nice surprises in terms of using mechanisms of social clauses by local goverments in our region?

Iwona Piątkowska-Lipka: Unfortunatelly the contest showed how little is still the scale of implementing the social clauses. Although the application for the contest could be sent over the nearly five months, and the contest was promoted at various events, were we invited public administration, we recived only two applications: from city Częstochowa (which consequently won the contest and actually is the undisputed leader of social clauses in our region) and city Gliwice (second place).
Fortunatelly there was also the positive aspect, there was a very big interest in a debate about social clauses that we organied togther with the final of the competition, the participants asked many questions to panelists and expressed interest in the implementation of clauses in their institutions. Hopefully, it will pay off in the future.

Anna Pomykoł: I hope so too, I can see that there is still a lot to do in terms of supporting the social economy development so I wish you a good luck in your work and thank you for conversation.

Iwona Piątkowska-Lipka: Thank you.


Information about the system project dedicated to supporting the development of social economy in Silesia Voivodship:

“Cooperation pays off – the coordination of the social economy sector in the Silesia Voivodship”is a long term project run by The Regional Centre for Social Policy of the Silesian Voivodship – instutition responsible for implementing regional strategic document dedicated to social economy sector – The regional social economy development program in the Silesia  Voivodship until 2020.

The aim of the project is to strengthen the role of social entrepreneurship in the Silesia Voivodship untill 2020. The target groups of this project are institutions of social economy, in particular the Support Centres of Social Economy (OWES), social enterprises, local government units, institutions of assistance and social integration, public employment services, businesses, the media.

The main activites of the project are:

  • the creation of a regional network of OWES cooperation,
  • initiating cooperation in the social economy and determining the directions of its development,
  • creating and promotion of the brand  of social economy in the region, including the use of responsible public procurement.

The value of the project is around 335 000,00 Euro (1,482,320.00 PLN), including co-financing from the European Union around 285 500,00 Euro (1,259,972.00 PLN).