(6) Annex B includes best practice guidance on SV measurement. Understandably, this is much shorter and less conclusive and does not recommend a specific methodology. It recommends that Inspiring Impact be asked to help develop appropriate SV impact measurements, including developing a methodology to help commissioners assess the additional SV provided by contracts, setting standards for measurement, and promoting good practice across sectors that does not result in undue burdens for suppliers.
(7) A key point made in the report (p.25, ‘Good practice for commissioners’) is that types of SV outcomes should be clearly written into contract specifications, rather than relying on open questions to providers that ask them to articulate their SV offer. This may require some local authorities to change the procedures they were tending to use at the Invitation to Tender stage, where open questions on SV to those interested in tendering were fairly common.
(8) A section headed ‘Good practice for providers’ (p.25/26) interestingly makes very much the key points we have consistently tried to get across:
» Understand the needs of the local area and the contracting authority’s priorities.
» Think about how social value can be incorporated into your core business or can be a natural adjunct to it, rather than forming an unrelated ‘add-on’.
» Identify your social value offer and think about how it is relevant to the types of contracts you will be bidding for.
» Articulate your social value offer – quantify the value for money you will provide and make the case for your social value offer being a way for commissioners to navigate cost savings pressures.
» Use social value as a route in to commissioners – helping them understand the full range of innovation you can provide, ensuring services are well designed for your stakeholders, and ensuring the procurement process does not exclude certain types of provider.
Some interesting points are made about the inherent challenges involved in measuring social value, and particularly in comparing different types of social value, in this short piece in Third Sector online, published as part of the coverage of SEUK’s ‘social value summit’ (Feb 2015).
Overall, this is a useful and fair review of where things are at the moment regarding SV implementation. It will be helpful to those who are actively trying to encourage the adoption of SV; it is sympathetic to social enterprise and the third sector; and it offers some good advice for those public authorities that are struggling.
BSSEC materials on social value
You can see all of BSSEC’s materials on social value here:
→ Main category — Public Services and Social Value