Developing the social value agenda — social enterprises and strategic partners have many concerns in common

Since 2012 BSSEC has been working to support practical implementation of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 — what has become known in shorthand simply as ‘social value’. This work has been made possible by financial support from The Barrow Cadbury Trust, which we gratefully acknowledge.

In drawing the project to a close, we organised two roundtable discussion events — the first for social enterprises; the second for strategic partners. These were planned to enable a proper conversation about social value, looking not just at where things are currently but how best the idea can be extended and protected for the future.

As regards developing the social value agenda, the views of social enterprises and strategic partners had much more in common than we thought might be the case.

Social enterprises feel there is a big gap between the rhetoric of social value and their experience of how the legislation is being used on the ground, but strategic partners share many of these same concerns. They too consider that there is an evident gap between rhetoric and reality; that it is time for advocates and supporters of social value to exert greater influence over the agenda; and that identifying social value solely with the public procurement process is too narrow an interpretation of what social can and should be.

It is clear that much remains to be done in order to continue developing better use of the legislation, a wider understanding of the role of social value and especially in joining up local efforts to ensure that social value continues to be a key part of public policy in Birmingham and the wider west Midlands.

But the participants at our events had some terrific ideas and you can read the recommendations we make HERE.

One of the key things that has changed since the legislation came into force is that gradually a pool of expertise – of social value advocates and activists – has developed. We will carry on working with others in the sector to try and influence the continuing development of social value both in Birmingham and in the West Midlands through the emerging West Midlands Social Value Task Force.
You can read the executive summary and full final report of this project at the links below.
Social value: Where we are and looking forward — EXECUTIVE SUMMARY.
Social value: Where we are and looking forward – FULL REPORT.
Social value: Where we are and looking forward – BSSEC presentation given at both roundtable events.
More about the roundtable events and RECOMMENDATIONS.
For all materials on social value choose POLICY ISSUES on top menu bar and scroll down to PUBLIC SERVICES & SOCIAL VALUE to see all topics.
Birmingham UK. Freelance research, evaluation and policy consultant specialising in social enterprise and the third sector. I maintain the BSSEC blog and website

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