What is Social Value?
“Looking at the collective benefit to a community when a public body chooses to award a contract”.
This is the simplest translation, provided by Social Enterprise UK. The way people report on social value varies enormously and can be very detailed, but this is not necessary for everyone.
What is the difference between Community Benefits and Social Value?
In Scotland, we talk about Community Benefits, which are directly connected to the delivery of specific contract. The delivery of community benefits is generally agreed between parties and delivered within a set period.
Social Value looks at all the activity your business undertakes, including the things you just automatically do, not realising the social value of them. It can be measured by putting a financial value next to an activity or through case studies/examples of what you have done.
What does that have to do with me?
Tendering for public sector contracts is a competitive business, particularly for smaller organisations.
The good news is that local authorities must consider their wider community goals, aims and objectives that benefit their area when awarding a contract. This includes supporting the local economy.
This puts smaller local businesses offering goods/service of a similar quality and price at a real advantage. Contributing towards the local community and environment is something that most small businesses are already doing!
Your Social Value
Do you do any of the following:
- provide goods and services locally
- recruit, hire and train local people
- offer work experience placements to locals
- promote and upskill staff ensuring you keep their knowledge and expertise in-house
- use a local supply chain, preferably independent traders
- have great local knowledge - the good and not so good points about areas
- have good community standing - supportive of local events, sponsorship of local teams, take part in community initiatives like fundraisers/gala days/school events
These are all factors that give you the edge over larger national organisations who are unable to replicate. The ripple effect of each of these activities is wider than you might think. For example:
Using local suppliers
Offering work and training
• you are now helping them employ more local people
• supporting other local business to succeed
• keeping your business spend to the local economy
• keeping hard working people in the area and sending their kids to local school, using local libraries, health services and shops
• offering options to the next generation of business owners
• by promoting within, you are demonstrating your commitment to developing talent locally
A good place to start is by thinking about what you already do and its value to the community. Record all the positive stuff you do and create a document providing examples. SPA is looking to introduce a social value reporting service for contractors. Watch this space for more information and your opportunity to help develop it!