Reflections on the Social Value Summit 2015

Ethel Maldonado, Community Investment Manager, BITC was at the Social Value Summit that took place on February 3 2015.  She reports on the discussions and conclusions from the event.

Social Value Summit logoI was very pleased to attend the 2015 Social Value Summit, hosted by Social Enterprise UK and Interserve. It was a brilliant opportunity to hear about the different challenges and opportunities facing the private and public sector when trying to make the most of their contribution to communities.

The first session saw Lord Young and Lord Adebowale present their different perspectives on the Act. Lord Young, currently leading the Social Value Act (SVA) revision, called for an objective way to articulate the social value of a contract. He admitted that many people in the public procurement space still don’t know about the SVA, and others don’t want to know.

Lord Adebowale recognised that although the Act is great it still “needs to develop the teeth necessary to drive activity”, that we need to bring all sectors (private, public and third) together in one room, to work collaboratively and generate creative models for local devolution.

An important point was made in Lord Adebowale’s statement concerning social value and local procurement: “the process needs to match the intent and outcomes. Right now both intent and outcomes are not very clear”. This is consistent with the conclusions of November’s business round table for the revision of the Act, where businesses highlighted that often local procurement teams ask about “social value” but don’t provide clear guidance around what it means to them and what the measures are they expecting to track.

The Housing sector session gave the opportunity to hear from Circle Housing Association and First Ark Group about the importance of capacity building and collaborating with your community partners to create social value and keep track of the changes.  The Act has enabled them to support efforts to extend their social initiatives and involve more providers. SImetrica explained how they have been supporting the sector with innovative tools to measure social value.

The most exciting session for me was the measurement workshop, where we heard from Interserve, PwC, NEF Consulting and FRC Group, identifying best practice and future trends in measurement.

The main points from this session were:

  • Focused measurement and robust qualitative and quantitative evidence of outcomes are important.

  • Use measurements to improve ongoing programmes.

  • Make sure that the measurement is mature enough before you put a pound value on it.

  • Only invest in using valuation methods to come up with a figure if this is going to help you sell more or manage your programme better (you need to invest around 40 days of man work to do an SROI according to NEF).

  • Different valuation methodologies can lead to different results and cash values.

  • You need to engage your stakeholders/beneficiaries so that they understand the real impact of your activities.

  • Track not only the positive impacts but the negative too. This will help you keep strengthening your activities.

NEF Consulting focused their definition of social value on actions that change people’s lives and shared some recommendations:

  • Prove and improve: measurement should be part of action learning - measure to improve what you are doing.

  • Understand what's changing: efficiency measures are very popular but change is important. Acknowledge the difference between inputs, outputs and impact.

  • Only include what is material: scope what you measure to include only what is significant and relevant to what you’re doing.

  • Consider impact and do not over claim: what’s really your share?

  • Involve stakeholders: talk to the people that you’re creating change for.

In addition to sharing reporting trends, PwC reflected on the main findings from the Communities Count report. This showed that those commissioners that are taking on board the implications of the SVA are doing four things:

  1. Defining what their strategic objectives are  on the bais of what is important for communities.

  2. Integrating it into their overall operation.

  3. Partnering up – from a commissioner perspective, you want to make sure you include the key stakeholders in the process.

  4. Measuring – keeping track of those key KPI’s.

Finally we heard encouraging closing remarks from Hazel Blears MP who highlighted the encouraging efforts of many businesses, such as Willmott Dixon (a CommunityMark company), as well as hinting at some of the recommendations that the SVA review paper will include:  awareness, consistency of practice and measurement and transparency.

Read business' contribution to the SVA review.

Access recordings of all the Social Value Summit 2015 sessions.

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