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  • 4 minutes
  • 05/03/2019

Interview by Facilitate Magazine with Guy Battle

As part of a wider article in Facilitate Magazine, Guy Battle interviewed by Martin Read about social value, measurement methodology and the National TOMs

This is a part of an article in Facilitate Magazine, Guy Battle interviewed by Martin Read about social value, measurement methodology and the National TOMs. Please click here to read the full article 

Guy Battle is likely to look back on 2019 as a particularly busy year. The chief executive of the Social Value Portal (SVP),  a private consultancy and social enterprise, has led the development of a methodology for organisations “to measure and manage the contribution that their organisation and supply chain makes to society, according to the principles laid out within the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012.”

It’s described as the TOMS (Themes, Outcomes,  Measures) framework, and here in early 2019 the audience for this methodology is growing exponentially, with Battle currently involved on several fronts to expand its reach and acceptance.

Battle and his colleagues spent 18 months developing the methodology before making it available in late 2017. It’s essentially a tool that allows organisations to consider all aspects of their activity – environmental, economic and social – to identify the ‘social value’ derived from it.

Developed with input from the Local Government Association, which represents the local authorities now obliged to address the social value element of their service procurement, the methodology has been downloaded more than 2,000 times by local authorities and other organisations keen to add measurable substance to their sustainability considerations. The SVP is clearly offering the right tool at the right time.

Battle cannot fully explain why it is specifically now, six years after it first entered law, that the legislation’s intent has taken such a firm hold in both public and corporate consciousness. But the collapse of service providers, a general mistrust of big business, a widening public interest in organisations ‘giving back’ and a younger generation wanting to be involved in meaningful work  seem to be the elements coalescing into one overarching direction of travel.

We are likely to see more rewiring of facilities management service conversations as public, private and third sector organisations rush to embrace the potentially game-changing nature of social value.

“Whereas environmental sustainability took 10 years to be embedded properly in decision-making,” says Battle,  “I’ll say that – as a good guess – social value will take just two. The key reason being that it’s both easier to understand and it makes much more immediate sense to people. They can see the results of it being delivered.”

Environmental sustainability’s problem, Battle, explains, is that protecting the climate for generations to come is a difficult thing for people to envisage. Whereas “a service contract which involves giving a job to someone who is long-term unemployed, or embraces volunteering in the community, or involves a litter-pick in the local area – these are things people can see actually making a difference.”

What’s more, the nature of facilities management service means that it is perfectly placed to enable much of this social value activity. Battle told an IWFM audience last November that “FM is likely to find itself undergoing a quiet revolution. Your sector is about to be turned on its head, and organisations that don’t grasp this will get left behind,”

That’s quite a warning, but it comes from someone whose background means he understands the potential for FM in all of this. Originally trained as an engineer, Battle has amassed plenty of experience on a variety of corporate real estate projects, challking up more than 30 years as a consultant. He’s also been lead partner for sustainability at Deloitte LLP.

The Social Value Portal is a relatively recent addition to Battle’s CV, going live only two years ago. Prior to SVP, he set up The Sustainable Business Partnership, a sustainability-focused consultancy back in 2013. Battle has also worked with several FTSE 100 organisations developing sustainable strategies and social impact analysis (SROI) for major corporations. He was also involved in advising the Cabinet Office during the Public Services (Social Value) Act’s initial development.

“I’ve known FM for a long time,” says Battle, “and what excites me is that there’s an opportunity at this very moment to redefine the role of the property / facilities manager.”