I attended the future of social value event on 7th December 2017. The event was held at the House of Commons and was hosted by Chair of the APPG on Social Enterprise Alex Sobel MP. The event was well attended and was primarily reviewing the findings of the report by Chris White on Our Money, Our Future. A copy of the report can be downloaded by clicking here.

A number of social value organisations and practitioners from both the private and public sector in the UK attended the event.

The discussion was largely reviewing progress of the Social Value Act now that it is 5 years since it became law at the start of 2013. There was a lot of discussion around social value measurement and whether social value monetisation was relevant in particular situations to help drive change.

A number of practitioners raised questions about best available practice to undertake measurement and the need for additional guidance in this area. Indeed the report and some practitioners were advocating updates to the Government Green Book to add social value as a sixth case in the current five case Green Book model. A number of local authorities, including Brighton and Hove, were already adopting a monetisation approach against their capital works projects.

The key recommendations that were highlighted at the event and in the report are as follows:

  1. The Act needs to be extended ‘horizontally’ by including goods and works, but also to planning and assets and wider infrastructure;
  2. The Act needs to be extended ‘vertically’ by changing ‘consider’ to ‘account for’ in the language of the Act, and requiring this throughout the commissioning cycle, including contract management;
  3. Social value needs to be included as a precursor and core element in devolution agreements, requiring devolved areas to include it in their joined-up commissioning and procurement;
  4. These changes need to be supported by clearer statutory guidance by central government, including case studies, example weightings and removing thresholds;
  5. A biennial State of Social Value Audit conducted independently but with the support of the Government.

In combination, it was presented that these five measures would shift behaviours, change practice and create a transformation and step change in the way social value is addressed and utilised.

In summary, whilst it was widely recognised that the Act has achieved a lot of progress in social value being addressed by public procurement; there is still a long way to go. Indeed, it is estimated that the Social Value Act currently shapes approximately £25bn of public sector spend and that the opportunity exists for it to influence an additional £243bn in the next few years. Let’s make it happen.

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Danielle Mulder, Lead Consultant 
Danielle.mulder@actionsustainability.com
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