A few weeks ago I attended the National Social Value Conference – an incredible event attended by over 400 people in person… and over 1,000 online. After a Covid hiatus on events it was great to be back in a room filled with people passionate about Social Value.
The event marked 10 years since the Social Act was introduced – a decade of collaboration that has transformed public sector procurement. What was interesting about the conference was it wasn’t just a celebration of everything achieved to date, but an opportunity to open up the debate on what more we can do.
Social Value has, as Hazel Blears said, turned into a movement. I remember the first time I heard about the act turning into practice on a visit to Bristol City Council, and they told me that they were going to make 5% of every procurement Social Value related. I remember thinking 5% – that’s too ambitious!
But looking back at what has been achieved – £12billion of social value delivered to our communities. I realise that my local government background is making me biased, but I definitely think that Councils have led the agenda – maybe because they work so closely with their communities – it’s easier for them to identify those who will benefit most from Social Value initiatives. Placed based planning has been a thing in Local Authorities for years, so it is interesting to hear that other parts of the Public Sector, and especially Central Government, are going to take a placed based approach to Social Value moving forward. (forgive me for the quick sell here – one of the many benefits of using a Neutral Vendor like Constellia is that you can positively discriminate towards businesses within your locality, making it easier to keep your spending within your region and the resulting social value impacts in your closest communities).
Social Value means different things to different people – this was clear in the “hackathon” that took place at the Conference. If you don’t know (I didn’t!) A “Hackathon” is a ‘collective effort to solve a difficult problem’ – and I agree with the host of this session that sums up Social Value itself. Tasked with looking ahead to the next 10 years of social value, those in the room and online discussed a whole range of themes, from the role of businesses, focuses by sector, measuring progress to focuses on specific topics such as Climate Emergency and Inclusivity. The debate was lively and filled with passion – balancing business heads and social hearts. The room was buzzing with a real sense of making change and the impact that we could have. It was pointed out there is another £200billion of public spending that Social Value can be applied to. And when the Private Sector catches up, just imagine how much our communities are going to benefit!
So where now? How do we move forward into the next decade of Social Value?
At Constellia, we understand the impact of every project we procure, whether it’s Homelessness Transformation in Manchester, leveraging the Levelling Up Fund in Ashton or undertaking a Decarbonisation design project on social housing in Northampton. We work with organisations to define their requirements, embedding social value targets and creating project milestones, ensuring projects are delivered on time and on budget, meaning social value outcomes are delivered as soon as possible.
If you want to find out more about Constellia’s Neutral Vendor solution, and how it can help you achieve your social value goals, please get in touch.
Did you miss the conference? You can catch up on all the content online at: https://socialvalueportal.com/resources/events/2022-national-social-value-conference/
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