New SEUK research on use of social value in health finds only 13% of CCGs making ‘highly committed, active’ use of the legislation


Back in March 2016 we published this post in which we detailed our own findings regarding the poor utilisation of the social value Act in health commissioning.  We found social value similarly absent in STPs (Sustainability & Transformation Plans).

It is encouraging therefore to find that new national research — conducted at a scale that local networks like our own could simply not achieve — mirrors these findings exactly.

SEUK has just published Healthy Commissioning: How the Social Value Act is being used by Clinical Commissioning Groups. This finds that of the 209 CCGs in England:

» 57% say they have a social value policy or reference social value in one or more of their procurement policies.

» 43% either have no policy, were not aware of a policy, or had a policy in some stage of development.

» Just 25 CCGs (13%) demonstrated what the researchers described as ‘highly committed, evidenced and active’ use of the Act.

We also found that at precisely the time when we are seeing the NHS put ever greater emphasis on early intervention, preventative services and community-based provision — all areas in which third sector and social enterprise providers are heavily represented — commissioning opportunities for new services are few and the social value Act, which could offer an excellent framework to underpin such procurement, is almost entirely neglected. There are isolated examples of outstanding practice, however. The work being done with third sector partnerships by Dudley CCG — which we documented in its earlier stages here — is certainly worthy of mention.

SEUK’s report says:

“…for the first time in its history the NHS has a vision and goals for bringing the contributions of community groups and organisations into the mainstream…as an essential component of sustainable healthcare – and yet the responsibility for enabling this has never been more obscure and confused.”

The causes of this failure to grasp the potential of the social value Act in health are numerous, of course. Successive waves of reorganisation, financial crisis, and continuing political uncertainty all play a part. But so too, it must be said, does the complex and impenetrable culture of CCGs. While we have spoken to some in CCGs who say they want to better understand the application of social value, we have never been able to find a structured, accessible route to effect such a working partnership.

In addition, as SEUK’s report points out, robust guidance on the use of the legislation has been woefully lacking. Public Health England has published one guidance paper, and the Sustainable Development Unit has also published one. But amongst health sector staff we have spoken to we found that even these limited sources of guidance were little known.

The SEUk report recommends that:

» NHS England and the Department of Health should mandate every CCG to have a social value policy.

» Every STP should have a social value strategy, outlining its plans in relation to the Act.

» The Department of Health, NHS England, NHS Improvement, and Public Health England should disseminate and promote good practice on social value.

» The Department of Health, NHS England, NHS Improvement, and Public Health England should work with the Inclusive Economy Unit to draft stronger and clearer guidance for the healthcare system in relation to social value.

» CCGs should enact the principles of the Social Value Act to goods and works that they buy, as well as services being commissioned, and that the Social Value Act is strengthened to that effect.

Anyone who is trying to stay abreast of the social value debate and any organisation struggling to try and embed social value outcomes in its niche in the delivery environment will find this report useful.

See all our material on public services and social value.

See all our materials on health and social value.

See all blog posts tagged ‘social value.

UK Social Enterprise of the Year Awards 2017 now open for applications

SEUK has just announced that applications are now open for the UK Social Enterprise Awards 2017.

The Awards recognise organisations for their business excellence and contribution to society, as well as the achievements of people working at the heart of the sector.

In addition to existing categories, this year there are two new ones — Tech for Good, and Community Business of the Year.

The event will be held on the 23rd of November in central London.

Applications close on the 7th July 2017.

Are you “business angel ready”?

What is a social business angel? Who invests in social enterprises and what do they want? 

iSE is offering two workshops that will answer these questions — and many others too. If you are wondering whether your enterprise might be attractive to an angel investor, then book your place now and iSE will help you find out. Please note that booking is essential by phone on 0121 771 1411 or by email to Sarah Crawley.


Co-Wheels car club secures £40K social investment to help fund expansion



Co-Wheels Birmingham is your local eco car club, operated social enterprise Green Revolutions CIC.

Its members drive low-emission, well-maintained cars –without the hassle and cost of ownership, insurance and and maintenance.

Since launching in 2013, Co-Wheels now has over 90 members, with pay-as-you go vehicles ready for immediate hire across South Birmingham — and more locations and cars are on the way. Thanks to £40,000 social invest from Big Issue Invest, the enterprise is now looking to grow its membership to 300 over the next two years. 

Sandra Green, founding director says: “Getting this investment has been a tremendous boost to Green Revolutions and will help the organisation move forward at a much quicker pace. We want to help reduce C02 omissions by finding affordable and convenient ways for people to cut car use and avoid the hassles of car ownership. We believe our car club offers the opportunity to do this. We are excited by the prospect of creating greater social impact through the expansion of our work.”

The finance provided by Big Issue Invest is part of a new £5m lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000 across the country. Kevin Lloyd-Evans, Big Issue Invest’s regional investment manager says: “We are delighted to be able to support Green Revolutions. It is our second investment in Birmingham and we hope to continue working with more organisations in the coming year.”

Read press release.

Crowdfund Birmingham — new funding opportunities for community benefit projects

Click to go to Crowdfund Birmingham

Further to this post, we now have further news about Crowdfund Birmingham, the new joint initiative between Birmingham City Council and Crowdfunder.

Launched at the start of the year, Crowdfund Birmingham  is a new campaign to help people with good ideas raise the money they need to get them off the ground. Successful projects will be able to double their money.

Birmingham City Council has up to £10,000 per project to pledge on crowdfunding projects in Birmingham that meet its funding criteria. Find out more here.

And if you’re new to crowdfunding and want to learn more about how to make it work for you, there are free online webinars that will give you the help you need. The webinars cover:

  • Planning your project @ 4.00pm on Wednesday 24th May 2017
  • Creating your project @ 4.00pm on Wednesday 7th June 2017
  • Running your project @ 4.00pm on Wednesday 21st June 2017
  • Live surgery session @ 4.00pm Wednesday 5th July 2017


There will also be an information event, almost certainly in June — I’ll post details here as soon as we are advised of the date and venue.

Sign up for webinars.

Crowdfund Birmingham.

Funding overview and eligibility (PDF).

New research into social impact bonds reveals “unintended effects”

We’ve written quite extensively about Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) elsewhere on this blog.

SIBs have been pursued as a specific policy initiative because it is said they enable more flexible services, reduce the risk of service innovation (by ‘distributing’ that risk to private investors), and result in improved outcomes for service-users. In this, they can be seen as a ‘marketised’ variant of Payment by Results (PbR).

Third Sector online has just covered an interesting paper by Daniel Edmiston and Alex Nicholls, researchers at the University of Oxford, published as an open access article in The Journal of Social Policy.

The paper, Social Impact Bonds: The Role of Private Capital in Outcome-Based Commissioning, finds that SIBs have had a number of “unique and unintended effects” and of the four schemes examined in detail concludes that: “There is no current evidence to suggest that these SIBs were able to produce improved social outcomes relative to previous and other existing service interventions.”

The paper finds that the SIB mechanism:

  • Has high transaction costs (set-up, legal requirements, management, data gathering).
  • Introduces additional administrative and monitoring burdens for delivery agencies (costs “that could be better spent on frontline services”).
  • Can increase the pressure on some providers to “cream” and “park” — i.e. focus on clients most likely to boost outcomes and bypass those with the most complex and intractable needs.
  • May stifle flexibility and reduce autonomy for frontline practitioners.
  • May bring additional rigour to assessing effectiveness and performance but not necessarily result in service innovation.


This paper isn’t an easy read — it is, after all, an academic paper — and the “unintended effects” it describes seem entirely predictable in many ways, but it is interesting and anyone seeking to keep up with public policy thinking around SIBs will find it of some value.

‘Unlocking the Warehouse’ — FoE embarks on ambitious refurbishment plans

The Warehouse, Allison St (illustration: FoE)

The Warehouse in Allison St, Digbeth, has been home to Friends of the Earth and a number of other environmental and progressive causes for the past forty years.  And now the organisation is about to embark on an ambitious refurbishment plan. FoE aims to raise nearly £250,000 through a community share offer scheme to finance the complete refurbishment of The Warehouse, its community environment centre.

Financing for the work is also being supported by Co-operatives UK and Power to Change.

FoE has already chosen Jericho Construction — a Jericho Foundation social enterprise — to undertake the planned construction work.

When completed The Warehouse will showcase state-of-the-art insulation, energy-saving insulation and glazing of a kind that many other buildings in Birmingham will need if the city is to meet its commitments to act on climate change.

Phil Burrows, General Manager at Birmingham Friends of the Earth says, “We’ve chosen Jericho Construction because of the transparent way that they quote, the excellent work they’ve done for us in the past and their status as a social enterprise.”

Find out more about FoE’s community fundraising scheme.

Full details of the FoE share offer.

Read more on the Jericho Foundation blog.

Phil Burrows, FoE (L), and Richard Beard, Jericho (R)

SEUK announces ‘state of social enterprise 2017’ survey

Every two years SEUK carries out the largest national survey of the social enterprise sector and publishes a report of its findings. The 2015 survey was in our view the best so far — packed with key data and sector trends and useful to anyone wanting to draw on a national evidence-base in order to support their own work, better understand the sector or influence local policy-makers.

We wrote extensively about the 2015 report when it was published and you can find all previous state of social enterprise reports HERE on the SEUK website.

SEUK has just announced that the survey has opened for 2017 and it is now busy gathering data.

But to help ensure that the sector’s biggest bi-annual survey is the best it can be, you need to participate — so make sure to take the survey HERE.

Birmingham City Council revises Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility and supporting policies

Birmingham City Council has made some recent changes to its Social Value Policy, The Living Wage Policy and the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility (BBC4SR).

The details (and downloads) can all be found on the ‘guidance’ page of the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility website.

The BBC4SR was initially designed to help boost the local economy by supporting the local supply chain, creating job opportunities and ensuring employees are paid fairly.

The Living Wage, published by The Living Wage Foundation, will be increasing this month by 20p an hour to £8.45 per hour.

Main changes to the BBC4SR include renaming the principle ‘Buy Birmingham First’ to ‘Buy Local’ and introducing a tiered approach to applying the charter. This is aimed at ensuring that the Council is maximising efficiencies both for itself and for businesses.

The Social Value policy has been revised to bring it into closer alignment with the Charter and now includes details about the three tiers (by value) in how charter principles are applied to contract value/suppliers.



Patients and families supported by John Taylor Hospice tell their stories in film

As part of a major University of Birmingham project called Life: Moving, patients and their families receiving care from the John Taylor Hospice have been trained in film-making and have created a series of short films exploring their personal experiences. The project aims to challenge society’s misconceptions about terminal illness by giving those experiencing it the opportunity to tell their own stories and bring them to a wider audience.

Robert Homer, a JTH patient from Handsworth and an accomplished artist, is one of the participants. “People don’t know what it’s like when you you’ve been told you’re going to die,” he says, “so I hope this film will help them understand a bit more.”

The films will be featured in an exhibition at St Barnabas Church in Erdington on April 28-29 between 10am and 6pm.

JTH was selected as a community partner in the project because of its track record of involvement in arts projects and research, and its strong commitment to community outreach.

More about Life: Moving.
More on the story on the JHT website.
Read the press release.

Rethinking the ‘social enterprise city’ idea

Participants at the event (photo courtesy Stuart Emmerson SEUK WM)

Further to this post, I’m delighted to announce that the “Is Birmingham a Social Enterprise City?” event we sponsored as part of City Drive was a great success. 

We hoped that the event would provide an opportunity to rethink the ‘social enterprise city’ concept, to think about its continuing relevance, and to consider what a social enterprise city – especially Birmingham – might look like in a period of such political, economic and financial uncertainty. And that is very much what happened. Everyone who participated said they found it very satisfying to be able to take a step back and think more critically about the idea of ‘social enterprise places’.

Click to download PDF

We found that:

» There continues to be strong interest in the idea of positioning Birmingham as a social enterprise city, although participants also felt that to be genuinely meaningful this would have to be a ‘social enterprise city’ with more ambitious aims, capable of responding to the numerous long-term problems that Birmingham faces as a consequence of austerity, reduced government funding and the deepest service cuts in a generation.

» The development of such an initiative would need the active support of a much wider alliance of supporters — far beyond what might be termed the ‘usual’ players.

» While the ‘social enterprise place’ model does have some limitations — not least the limited capacity of organisers and the need to raise development resources — participants generally still do believe that the concept continues to offer huge advantages for the sector in terms of awareness and presence; influence; inter-trading; collaboration and partnership; promoting self-help and peer support.

» Much more would have to be done in terms of scoping and planning the idea, securing political leadership and commitment and widening the alliance of active development participants.

On balance participants felt that we should be seeking to establish Birmingham’s rightful place as a social enterprise city — because in all but name that is precisely what it already is!

 Read the report.


Women’s Enterprise Hub, free workshop — Working with Angel Investors

The Women’s Enterprise Hub is hosting a free workshop on the 25th April (08.30am-10.00am) and again on the 27th June (same time) called “Working with angel investors — attracting and partnering social angel investors”.

Download the flyer (pdf).

Please note booking essential by phone (0121 663 1711) or email to Lisa Rushton at The Women’s Enterprise Hub.

The Pump seeks business partner to realise full potential of on-site café

The Pump is a hub for youth work and activity in Kitts Green, East Birmingham and offers music, dance and dance studios, a performance space, a cyber-cafe and a day nursery.

Formerly known as the Shard End Community Building Project (SECBP), The Pump is the realisation of a vision of HRH The Prince of Wales, who wanted to create an outstanding building which as well as acting as a focus and inspiration for the personal development of young people would also be designed and built by young people. 

The Pump has the following social enterprise opportunity:

The Pump is looking for a provider to take on its Cafe to enable the organisation to offer even better services to our community.

It is looking for individuals who have experience of catering and have a passion for good, tasty, healthy food coupled with sound business skills to realise the potential of this great small business.

The aim is to partner with an organisation or individual, who shares The Pump’s vision to develop the café into a thriving and profitable community asset, whereby people can learn and achieve through dedicated training and bespoke courses to meet community need.

The Pump will be asking for presentations against a short brief to be given to two of its Trustees at the beginning of June 2017. If you are interested please contact Charlotte Linforth on 0121 675 8381 or send her mail

Busy, busy…Jericho Foundation scoops apprenticeship awards and puts in an appearance at No. 10

The Jericho Foundation has been typically busy over recent weeks.

Two of its young social enterprise employees scooped awards at the 2017 Star Apprenticeship Awards ceremony, held at the MacDonald Burlington Hotel on the 10th March. 

Billy, one of Jericho’s catering apprentices, won the Hospitality Apprentice Award, while Oliver won the overall Star Apprentice Award. Congratulations to them both. You can read the full story over on the Jericho Foundation blog.

Oliver (2nd from left), overall 2017 Star Apprenticeships Award winner

Billy, 2017 Star Apprenticeships Award winner – catering

In other Jericho news, chief exec Richard Beard was present at the Prime Minister’s ‘Celebrating Civil Society in the Midlands Reception’ on Wednesday 29th March at 10 Downing Street.

Richard Beard, Jericho Foundation CEO at 10 Downing St

Richard said, “We were delighted that the Jericho Foundation was given a special mention by Rob Wilson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Civil Society. We will continue with our mission to provide post-National Referral Mechanism support to the survivors of modern slavery. One thing which would assist these brave people would be the confirmation of conclusive grounds guaranteeing benefits eligibility.”

You can read the full story of this too over on the Jericho blog.

“Promising Practice” — NHS England publishes paper on STPs and the third sector

We’ve written extensively about health and social value on this blog, and more recently, with specific reference to Birmingham and Solihull, have been exploring the role that NHS sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) should be playing in helping to embed social value and social enterprise and third sector commissioning.

At last, it seems we are not alone in banging on about these concerns. 

NHS England’s Public Participation Team has just circulated a document called Promising practice: how Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships are working with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. Sadly, Birmingham is not singled out for good practice but there are interesting examples from elsewhere in the country.

Now the most interesting thing about this document is the other sources it refers to. I found that virtually every report Promising Practice mentions was news to me — perhaps I haven’t been keeping up very well. For example, it draws on and reinforces the recommendations contained in the following:

» Joint review of partnerships and investment in voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in the health and care sector (final report of the VCSE Review Team, May 2016 — chaired by Alex Fox, CEO of Shared Lives Plus). This report notes that “at present an adequate mechanism does not exist for making sense of [the VCSE offer] in ways that can best aid local adoption and spread” and recommends that NHS England uses a framework agreement “to commission a pool of preferred VCSE partners able to support person-centred, community-focussed interventions in defined geographical areas.”

» A new relationship with people and communities Actions for delivering Chapter 2 of the NHS Five Year Forward View: The report from the People and Communities Board to the Chief Executive of NHS England (February 2017). This report says: “Both the VCSE Review and Realising the Value confirmed that healthcare commissioning is still at a very low base when it comes to working in coproduction with the VCSE sector, and to taking a wellbeing approach to commissioning. For example, very few are actively using social value principles in procurement. Indeed, very few procure from the community sector at all.”

» Engaging local people: A guide for local areas developing Sustainability and Transformation Plans (NHS September 2016).

The point I’m trying to make is that at last it does seem that the right noises are being made — certainly by some parts of the NHS — and the dots are being joined-up between STPs, social value and the early intervention, preventative and community-based services that social enterprise and the third sector can offer.

The key problem, of course, is how on earth the sector — with its diminished capacity and spiralling demand — keeps on top of this slowly evolving agenda and makes the contribution it is not just able to but which is mapped out for it in all of the NHS documents mentioned above.

Working with the sector to develop protocols and agreements, to help establish and maintain networks, and to help the sector clarify and articulate its varied offers — all of which are mentioned in Promising Practice — is one thing. But enabling these services to get in front of commissioners who have not just the flexibility to commission them but also the money to fund those purchases is another matter entirely.

But progress has to start somewhere. If anyone has news about similar STP and VCSE sector progress in Birmingham and Solihull perhaps they can comment here or share links on our Twitter feed.

You can find out more or send your own examples of good practice to the NHS England Public Participation Team by sending mail to Frances Newell.

You may also want to see:

Social Value in health — it doesn’t have to be complicated.

See all blog posts tagged ‘social value’.

See all website material on public services and social value.

 See all website materials on social value and health.

UCB summer internships — calling all enterprises that can offer 8-week roles

University College Birmingham’s Summer Internship scheme is now open for 2017.

The university is looking  to offer internships to its food development, business, tourism and sports students. The internship can start any time after June when the students finish the semester.

University College Birmingham will pay up to £1000 towards the salary of each student, reimbursed at the end of the internship. To qualify an internship should last at least 8 weeks or 40 days if part time.

For more information see flyer, watch the videosend mail to UCB, or ring Natasha Lawson-Hollingsworth (0121 232 4322) or Sandeep Mahli (0121 232 4157).

Transformation and Social Value: Social Prescribing Keynote

PSIAMS Systems will be hosting a data focussed conference during City Drive Week in Birmingham. The event will feature a range of presentations and workshops on how data is transforming the way the Voluntary and Social Enterprise Sector are responding to change and the needs of commissioners and funders for outcomes focussed results and improved efficiency in service delivery.

The event on the 5th April 2017 will feature a keynote presentation from the award winning Integrated Plus, a Dudley based Social Prescribing project that has been identified as an exemplar of work in the sector.

The event will also feature service change in Children and Young people Services, social care services and peer to peer support.

Additional places added: Register Here Now!


School for Social Entrepreneurs Mids announces new FREE 40-place programme

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands has just announced the following:

Free programme to help you start a Social Enterprise + £3,000 to get things going

The School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands is looking for 40 start-up social entrepreneurs from across the West & East Midlands to join its award winning Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs programme.

It starts in October. It’s free (yes, free) and 40 places are available. 15 days over 12 months. A Big Lottery Grant of £3000 to boot.

The deadline for applications is 26th April.

To help you decide if it is right for you, we are running a series of free 2 hour Information Events across the region. They are:

Leicester 23 March from 5:30pm Booking essential
Coventry 28 March from 6:00pm Booking essential
Birmingham 30 March from 5:30pm Booking essential
Nottingham 6 April from 5:30pm Booking essential
Birmingham 11 April from 5:30pm Booking essential
Wolverhampton 12 April from 6:30pm Booking essential

If you have a desire to address a social or environmental issue; if you have an idea for a social enterprise; if you have a desire to learn or need help, this is for you.

Jericho Foundation secures £440K funding to support victims of modern slavery & trafficking

L-to-R: Patrick Masih (Client Support Manager), Louise Gore (Client Support) and Richard Beard (Chief Executive) of the Jericho Foundation

Further to this post, the Jericho Foundation has just announced that it has received £314,000 from the Big Lottery Fund and a further £128,000 from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation to support its “Labour for Change” project which supports victims of modern slavery.

These disadvantaged people became the focus of attention last year when Theresa May pledged £33m to fight human trafficking. It is a huge problem in Britain today – it is estimated that in 2015 there were 13,000 people enslaved in the UK alone, while last year 3,266 individuals were rescued and referred to the National Referral Mechanism.

The “Labour for Change” Project improves the economic, social and personal outcomes of the survivors of modern slavery and those at risk of this kind of exploitation. The project provides supported employment, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities in Jericho’s eight social enterprise businesses. The Jericho Client Support Team delivers information, advice, guidance, personal development, language skills training and other services throughout the employment period or apprenticeship. Hope for Justice is one of the partners Jericho will be working closely with on this project and they will be sharing expertise while providing referrals and legal advocacy support.

Richard Beard, Chief Executive of Jericho, said: “We are incredibly grateful for the funding provided by the Big Lottery Fund and the Esmée Fairburn Foundation. It will truly transform the lives of victims of modern slavery. Our holistic programme ensures these survivors achieve a regular income, personal development and a feeling of safety and security. They are able to end their dependency on benefits, secure sustainable employment and become an inclusive and integrated part of their local community.”

For more information about this work send mail to Richard Beard at Jericho or ring 0121 647 1960.

Birmingham Volunteer Centre signs up with easyfundraising

Birmingham Volunteer Centre, the city’s volunteering support service provided by BVSC has just announced the following:

Did you know you now can help support the Volunteer Centre by shopping? Yes it is true! We have signed up with easyfundraising to raise funds for events like volunteers week and continued development of the services we offer.

In order for you to donate all you need to do is register and shop as you would normally do so. You will receive discount offers from high street retailer and supermarkets and may well save on your purchases whilst still supporting a worthy cause. See the link below for further information

Do you shop online? Do it via this link and raise a free donation for Birmingham Volunteer Centre every time you shop! 

Thank you, and happy shopping, Birmingham Volunteer Centre