One of the things we were most interested in seeing was the National Framework for Social Value Measurement, which was launched at the conference. Social value measurement has taken something of a backseat over the past couple of years but the launch of a free national framework and calculator tool puts this firmly back on the agenda.
Will this new framework achieve the kind of national recognition and traction its developers clearly hope for?
The framework — called the National TOMs Framework, which stands for Themes, Outcomes and Measurements — has been developed by the Social Value Portal and the Social Value Task Force over the past eighteen months or so, largely in response to the findings of the Lord Young review of the implementation of the Social Value Act. The Lord Young review called for more work to be done to develop a national minimum standard for reporting social value.
At the moment the framework is not comprehensive. It currently uses a basic five themes, under which there are 17 outcomes and 35 measures — some of which have in-built financial proxies which will automatically deliver a financial equivalent that can be attributed to the social value in question.
The aim is to test this framework over the next year or so, gradually populate it with a wider range of outcomes and measures and issue a version 2 framework in 2019.
Simple email registration on the Social Value Portal website enables you to download the guidance and the accompanying social value calculator spreadsheet.
It will be interesting to see the degree to which the framework is adopted. We have only had a fairly quick look at the guidance and the spreadsheets but our first instinct was that it looked over-complex for the average (and especially smaller) social enterprise.
Its natural constituency may be corporates and larger private sector businesses that are keen to capture social value as part of their contracting and bidding for public works, and public authorities that need to use an evidenced framework which will enable them to calculate and compare social value as part of decision-making in the procurement process. It may also appeal to social enterprises that have a designated social value and/or data person in-house able to take charge of putting the framework into practice.
The framework clearly represents an immense amount of labour. We understand that it has been developed largely by academic economists — and the guidance document rather reflects this. It certainly struck us that it could be more user-friendly.
It would be fascinating to hear accounts from others who may be in the process of trying to adopt this new framework.
The framework materials are free of charge.