This paper follows on from The Social Value Roundtable, held on 24th February 2014 and sponsored by Hazel Blears MP and Chris White MP. The paper summarises progress and to identify how all parties can maintain the momentum that the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 has generated to date.
- Business has responded very positively to the Act and views it as a means of demonstrating and evidencing their community activities that many are already delivering. Larger national businesses are leading the debate and driving the agenda as they tend to be in the front line of procurement. Even so, less than 1/3 of businesses consulted2 said that they had a high awareness of its requirements.
- A survey conducted by SEUK, found that 75% of Local Authorities (LAs) are aware of The Act. However, 31% of commissioning and procurement staff and 51% of providers who responded feel there is a lack of sufficient guidance on the Act. This finding is backed up by business who state ‘lack of clarity’ as being one of the key barriers to uptake.
- Business is generally finding that the way in which The Act is being applied is inconsistent amongst LAs and that there is little agreement on terminology, reporting standards or bid requirements. This is ultimately leading to frustration and additional bespoke work for each submission.
- Businesses are reporting SV through a wide range of reporting frameworks with the majority of respondents relying on non-financial reporting measures such as ‘narratives’ or ‘case studies’. This inevitably makes it difficult for LAs to compare submissions and leaves decisions open to challenge. To counteract this issue, there is a need for common language, terminology and definitions in order to better assess narrative/case study based evidence and measurement of ‘intangibles’.
- An overwhelming majority of respondents to the BITC survey (85%) would like additional guidance from commissioners and/or Government with key issues being consistency, 4transparency and accountability of decision making. There is a danger that if business are led to believe that there is not a ‘level playing field’ then The Act will not deliver to its full potential.
- There is a clear call for a joint dialogue between public, private sector and community groups to facilitate ‘joined up’ thinking and action, to remove duplication of effort, to ensure proportionality and to ensure real (useful, targeted and contextual) value is being delivered.