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Reflecting on The National Social Value Conference 2017 #BridgingTheGap

The National Social Value Conference 2017 #BridgingTheGap was held in Birmingham 14th November. It was a great event with over 250 delegates attending. There are too many highlights to mention them all but amongst the most memorable were the key note panel chaired by Hazel Blears with Theresa Grant, Jonathan Porritt and Ben Marson followed by the launch of the National TOMs Framework for measuring social value.

After the break we had a number of rotating sessions including a review of legal permissions (almost nothing is out of bounds), innovation and best practice and a session on how to win more tenders.

After a great lunch we were honoured to have the Mayor of West Midlands, Andy Street telling us about his approach to social value and specifically how the challenge of homelessness is at the top of his agenda which was followed by 4 deep dive sessions in Planning, Devolution, Health and Frameworks.

Key findings from our session and that will be taken forward over the next 12 months:

Integrating Social Value into Planning and Development. There was a clear agreement that integrating social value into planning offered a unique and significant opportunity and that the Task Force should prioritise the following over the next 12 months:

  1. Gather case studies of good practice and share.
  2. Develop example Social Value Statements.
  3. Speak to and educate planning colleagues about social value and help breakdown the silos.
  4. Develop and socialise TOMs Matrix for planning and development.

Health, Well-being and Social Value. The Health sector offers the most opportunity to deliver social value and yet ironically it is furthest behind. There was total agreement that this needed to be addressed as quickly as possible:

  1. Expand and develop TOMs for health sector.
  2. Link up the bodies (national and local) to help scale the opportunity.
  3. Work on driving social value awareness and engagement; this will require a cultural shift.
  4. Engage with the Social Enterprise and 3rd sector who are seen as the incubators and problem solvers.
  5. Develop the business case and identify savings (or life improvement) from executing/embracing social value.

Delivering Social Value through Effective Frameworks. Offer a different and longer-term approach to procurement and if social value can be made an integral part of the procurement of the framework it is more likely that bidders can become partners as they already have social value embedded in their way of working. They can show the way and drive change through the industry by setting standards.

Key opportunities that they provide include:

  1. Frameworks promote “buy in“ from the contractor, because they are visible for a long period of time and so have significant skin in the game.
  2. Setting new minimum standards across the industry such as requiring minimum spend with SMEs and Social Enterprise.
  3. Creating benchmarking to enable continuous improvement by setting challenging targets, which contractors strive to meet due to the long-term relationship and that may be used to understand what does ‘good look like’?
  4. The higher volume of work enables contractors to take a joined-up approach to a number of smaller projects in a locality to create a greater social impact than it would do if those projects were carried out individually by different contractors.
  5. Promote longer term investment to solve broader social challenges (i.e. responding to need).
  6. Integrate the voice of the community itself, and not just the voice of the “client”.

Social Value and the Devolution Agenda. As areas of the country flex their muscles and take on new powers, devolution provides an opportunity to act on a regional basis and to set broader targets as challenges may be shared. Key issues arising included a focus on contract management and getting it done, developing new partnerships through better collaboration and building capacity within the public sector and private organisations. Key initiatives:

  1. Explore how social value targets may be set for a region.
  2. Develop ways of being consistent by unifying measures and values (e.g. the National TOMs).
  3. Explore new ways of engaging with suppliers and building capacity.
  4. Embrace new technology and digital solutions.
  5. Identify and prioritise tackling the hardest problems (e.g. homelessness).
  6. Celebrate success and promote achievements in meaningful ways.

And finally, our new chair, Darren Knowd gathered a few quotes from the day ….

Terry Brewer ‘‘The SV Toolkit and TOMs – this is a serious game changer’’

Hazel Blears ‘‘DOING GOOD IS GOOD BUSINESS’’

Jonathon Porritt ‘‘We need to normalise social value across the totality of the public sector’’ also that ‘‘Social Value should be mandated and not just considered’’

Theresa Grant ‘‘Social Value is not just the responsibility for procurement team, it is everybody’s responsibility’’

Theresa Grant – ‘‘WHAT GETS MEASURED GET’S DONE’’

Agnese ‘‘The National TOMs are a minimum reporting standard and represent just the start of our journey’’

Cindy Nadesan  ‘‘Start slow and see how you go…but just make sure you start’’

Ben Carpenter – ‘‘The 3Ms – Measure, Manage and Maximise Social Value’’

Andy Street  – ‘‘WE CAN LEAD THE WORLD AGAIN IN AN INCLUSIVE WAY’’

For videos, pictures and a full set of presentations please click here.

You can also download the National TOMs here.

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