Is the Social Value Act understood?

Is the Social Value Act understood?

How can we use our joint influence to ensure that the Social Value Act is properly understood and incorporated into the tender process by local authorities, and how can we increase local awareness of what social enterprises are and do.

Discussion feedback taken from SEEE's A Conversation with Social Enterprise event on Friday 23rd October at the Future Business Centre in Cambridge.


We talked about the fact that social value is probably quite difficult to measure.  We are not sure whether people authoring the tenders really understand social value, it is not weighted very highly and in some cases not weighted at all it just put there as a token.


We have got a job to do we think in educating commissioners and perhaps looking at good examples of where social value has been responded to and actually followed up. 


Business in the Community (BITC) has offered to send around a tool kit they have got which might help with responses to social value.  Perhaps there is a role for SEEE in terms of educating commissioners and bringing social value much more to a regional level, or a more local level.  We know there is a summit which happens in London but this is very oversubscribed and almost about preaching to the converted.  Is there something to do to promote awareness more locally? We did touch on social return on investment (SROI) and whilst we know it is a very valuable process we feel it is a probably a longer term process and once in embedded and becomes good practice is a valuable resource however if you are responding to tender in a weeks or months' time you may not have all that information to hand.


BITC has developed a template for companies wanting to measure and evaluate their social value, particularly in the context of the Social Value Act. If anyone would like a copy please contact Mike.Brophy 


Alison Reid (CEO of Community Dental Services) mentioned the framework agreements where ethically committed and like-minded organisations come together to work collaboratively.  Mike Brophy (BITC) mentioned there is a responsible business week and perhaps there something we can do locally there.  BITC would be happy to facilitate where we perhaps try and encourage commissioners along and talk about social value and how it can really help with budget cuts.  The fact that if they commission and procure from certain social enterprises they're going get an awful lot more for their money and cover lots of services as well.


Another point the Social Value Act is legal but only has to be considered.


Response from Sue Lowe Cabinet Office


There was a review on the Social Value Act led by Lord Young which reported earlier this year. What came out of the review was that the Act is well regarded but there is more to do on awareness and understanding of the Act, a need for more good practice examples and case studies alongside wider awareness raising. We need to know more about how it is being used, find good practice and disseminate more information on the Act.


Jo Ransom stated that was very much a strong point in our group, it's about finding out the exemplary responses to these questions and try to learn and share that good practice.


Sue Lowe - You may be interested to know that Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM) have a social value champion from each local authority and including districts.  They are now working with the LEPs and I believe most of the LEPs now have a social value champion as well.  SEWM did a lot of convening around that. Melanie Mills was one of the key leads and has now moved to Big Society Capital. The work continues and provides a model. I was approached earlier this week by a commissioner at an event and asked if in my role, I could help convene a meeting of commissioners from across the region to learn what is happening in terms of social value -  so that maybe something we could explore?


Blow your own trumpet!!

Responses from Nicky Stevenson Researcher


A social enterprise (that provided transport for the Paralympics in London) following completing his work they produced a little leaflet which said all the things they had done.  It said how well they had met the goal of the contract but also the added social value that was created and sort of really making the point you can do joined up accessible transport in London if you try to even in if it for only 2 week .  So blowing your own trumpet has got to be important as well


Responses from Jo Ransom (board of SEEE and SEUK)


I think as a sector we are not very reflective and I think again that's the luxury of resource isn't it So we tend to be so busy doing that sort of sitting back and as you can say collecting evidence blowing our trumpet we are no particularly good at we do good but not particularly good at shouting about it


Response from Alison Reid (CEO, Community Dental Services)


I think that is absolutely true.  I wasn't involved when CDS spun out but I think the whole trauma of getting the department out of the NHS, which is was in our instance, is challenging enough Establishing new business, getting the new infrastructure and businesses structure in place is a challenge.  So when thinking about what measures you need to have on top of those that are contractually required and to make sure you are business savvy is a challenge.   I think we missed a trick, we didn't say what are the key value indicators we want to measure right at the front end and so retro fitting is really difficult but I think what we are much clearer about what we want to measure now.  So we know now what Social impact measures we want putting into any new contract.  One thing we would say to anyone coming out now that there is experience out there that can help you in thinking about what 2 or 3 things would you want to demonstrate your social value on and get them in now.  So that you measure them as you go because that's the learning we had that would make it easier to respond to tenders.  Unfortunately the whole maelstrom you go through when you're establishing a new business makes it quite a difficulty to prioritise and that's part of the our frustration.  Then its resource  and investment you need and the dedicated time when  the majority of doing people are not sitting in an office waiting for the next bit of information to come in.