Carried out by the Cabinet Office and Social Enterprises UK, the poll surveyed 2,070 British adults and revealed a significant public appetite for socially responsible businesses.

More than a third of respondents said they feel ‘ashamed’ when buying from companies they feel are socially irresponsible – 40% of women felt this way compared to 30% of men. More than half of respondents also felt that companies should be legally obliged to report on the impact they had on the communities in which they operate.

However, demand for socially responsible business appears to outstrip supply, with 40% of people saying there aren’t enough of these types of firms throughout the country.

The research forms part of the UK’s first Social Saturday on which takes place on 13 September with an aim to raise awareness of social enterprises across the UK.

Reinvesting profits

Social Enterprise UK’s chief executive Peter Holbrook said: “Every product and service you buy has a social or environmental impact, so why not make it a good one? The UK’s social enterprise sector is growing fast because consumers care about how their spending decisions affect the world they live in.”

The UK is home to the world’s largest social enterprise industry, with more than 180,000 companies, including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, Divine chocolate and Belu Water.

“A staggering 82% of social enterprises reinvest their profits locally and Social Saturday is an opportunity for people across the country to explore the breadth of this vibrant and growing sector,” said the Minister for Civil Society, Brooks Newmark.

“There is clearly a demand for people to buy social and there are now more ways than ever for people to invest socially as well.”

The results of the poll echo a US survey taken in July, which revealed that brand leaders are at risk of losing one-third of their customers over the next few years if they don’t align their product portfolios more closely with responsible consumption.

Brad Allen

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