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Most people reading this will appreciate that social value is becoming more and more important to organisations as they commission services so, in Liverpool, Mayor Anderson decided to commission a report that would show how it could be included as a consideration in all public spending contracts.

The background is that in May 2012 the Liverpool Fairness Commission launched its Come Together report and one of the key recommendations was around the opportunities presented by social value.  As a result, Mayor Anderson requested a task group be formed to look at what social value means to Liverpool and how its potential could be realised.  

Working alongside chief executive of Blackburne House, Claire Dove OBE and chair of the Fairness Commission and SEUK, we were heavily involved in the social value task group, charged with looking at how to build a framework for commissioners and the commissioned, to ensure social value is evident in all purchases.  I’m delighted to say, this month, the Mayoral Commission for Social Value report went public.

The recommendations cover many wide ranging aspects and work streams from targeting the social value priority areas to reviewing, measuring and monitoring the delivery of those values.  It also looks at mapping and reengineering current commissioning processes to delivering training to key stakeholder groups.

Along with other ideas and examples of best practice, the recommendations are intended to shape the next stage of the implementation of the Act in Liverpool, which will include the development of a commissioning and procurement methodology that gives us the platform to deliver social value across the City of Liverpool.

It’s increasingly acknowledged that social value should never just be seen as a nice-to-have but as a core part of the procurement process.  Then further up the line, any business providing social value as a consequence of securing contracted work should be able to identify, measure and report on its impact.  Of course it’s a little difficult to evaluate, we appreciate that, but it’s something The Connectives help organisations do on a regular basis using tools and methods recognised in the social impact world.  So while it may seem hard, it’s certainly very doable with some support.

The Mayoral Commission for Social Value report indicates what local authorities think around social value and how organisations are expected to report on it.  You can read it HERE (PDF)  – it’s a great start for any commissioner and provider, for while it focuses on Liverpool, its underlying messages are pretty universal.

Mayor Anderson wants Liverpool to lead by example as the City seeks to maximise the social as well as economic value derived from local authority, NHS and other public spending bodies’ procurement activities.  And with the Public Services and Social Value Act 2012 now in force, the need to demonstrate social value has never been greater.  Organisations receiving public money must be able to evidence their social, economic and environmental impact – and it’s truly fantastic to see Liverpool trailblazing yet again.

Social impact is an issue we feel passionately about and it is because The Connectives is known for its work in this area that Claire contacted us to facilitate the fact finding sessions with social entrepreneurs and businesses from across the City and to co-author the final report   It’s great to have been given the opportunity to be part of the both the task group and creating the resulting report.

Later this month I’ll be flying over to Nepal to share my knowledge of social value gleaned from projects like this around the world and to pick up new ideas from communities in other parts of the world.  I’m looking forward to sharing this report when I get there, because while it makes recommendations for commissioning social value in Liverpool, I truly believe a wider – even global – audience can reap the benefits of its insights.

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