We Create Social Value
On 31st January 2013, the Social Value Act came into force.
Here, we have information to help organisations understand and work with the Act:
This ground-breaking new law has the potential to transform the way public services are commissioned, requiring public bodies to consider choosing providers based on the social value created in an area and not on cost alone.
Together with our members, we were instrumental in ensuring that the Public Services (Social Value) Act became law, and have been recognised by the Third Sector Excellence Awards for our achievements, winning their Big Impact of the Year Award 2012.
If you run a social enterprise, community group or charity that delivers or would like to deliver local services, you'll know that organisations in the social sector have a strong track record of delivering quality services and tackling social issues. The Act can help you ensure commissioners recognise this and choose providers that create the most social value in your area.
The challenge now is to make sure local authorities fully embrace the Act, so we've created the 'We Create Social Value' campaign. A range of tools are available to help you contact your local MP, council and commissioning body to tell them about social value being created in your area.
A template to help you to write to your local MP to ask them to support the Social Value Act. All you need to do is click on the word icon to download the letter, then insert details of your own organisation and use the different options to tailor the letter for your local MP. We recommend sending this letter to your MP's Westminister office.
Get the name of your local MP by entering your postcode at www.theyworkforyou.com
To help you get in touch with your local MP, we've put together some information on finding out who they are, how to address them and who to contact in their offices.
Practical guide for commissioners - explains the policy context and benefits of the Act, and offers practical support on how to embed social value in commissioning and procurement from legal experts who advised government on the Act.
Supporting you to implement the Act - whether you're a commissioner or provider, if you'd like practical guidance and advice, SEUK can help.
Mythbusting guide for social enterprises and public bodies - helps address common misperceptions about public sector procurement rules, practices and processes that sometimes stand in the way of social value.
The Social Value Act - gives a brief overview of the Act for social enterprises, charities and public bodies.
Guidance from the Cabinet Office - explains the terms of the Act. Published December 2012.
Guidance from the European Commission - supports social value in procurement and explains how this fits with EU rules.
1. What is the Social Value Act?
This new law, which received Royal Assent on 8th March 2012 and is due to be implemented in January 2013, calls for all public service commissioning to factor in social value.
For the first time, all public bodies in England and Wales, including local authorities, will be required to consider how the services they commission and procure might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area. We hope it will transform the way public bodies choose to buy services.
“Social value” is a way of thinking about how scarce resources are allocated and used. It involves looking beyond the price of each individual contract and looking at what the collective benefit to a community is when a public body chooses to award a contract. Social value asks the question: "If £1 is spent on the delivery of services, can that same £1 be used to also produce a wider benefit to the community?"
It could mean that a mental health service is delivered by an organisation that actively employs people with a history of mental health problems to help deliver the service. The social value of commissioning these services comes through the person with mental health problems having a job where they may otherwise have been unemployed, their becoming more socially included, and having a say in how mental health services are run. It also means a local job for a local person.
A housing Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) contracts a private sector company to undertake repair work on their properties. As part of the contract the private company states that they will provide greater social value by promoting careers in construction and trades to local schools, and they commit to employing young people and the long term unemployed. The social value comes through local jobs for local people and raising the aspirations of local pupils.
It could mean that an NHS trust commissions a patient group to plan and run a series of consultation events. The patient group can then use its profits to increase its beneficial activities in the local community, rather than an events company that doesn’t have local roots using the profit elsewhere or giving it to their shareholders.
We hope the Act will result in social enterprises delivering more public services. It will ask that public bodies, including councils, commission services from providers that are committed to doing more than simply making money from a contract. Commissioners and procurement officers will be requested to seek out organisations that deliver above and beyond, charging a fair price while supporting the boroughs and communities in which they operate.
Social enterprises are well practiced at this across many sectors including health, education, housing and transport – for example using bus contracts to create jobs for people who would otherwise be unwillingly reliant on the state, or using recycling contracts to train and build the self-esteem of young people who didn't think they could play a part in society.
To support the implementation of the Social Value Act, we’ll be producing a series of guides, best practice events and training offers to support social enterprises and public sector bodies to build their capacity to comply with the Act. We’ll also be raising awareness amongst key stakeholders, including parliamentarians, councillors and commissioners to support the Act’s implementation.
The law was inspired by a recommendation in Social Enterprise UK's 2010 election manifesto and tabled by Chris White MP as a Private Member’s Bill.
Our policy team worked closely with Chris White MP to support the Bill on its journey through parliament. In order to build support, we hosted a number of events in Parliament in 2010, including a photo call, a mass lobby and a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group.
It's a rare feat for Private Members' Bills to become law, so this is a real achievement and we would like to say a huge thank you to our members, political sponsors and all those who helped make this happen.