Northern powerhouse shows the way when it comes to social value

Durham County Council and Liverpool-based social enterprise Fusion 21 were among the winners at the first Social Value Awards hosted in London this week.

The awards, which have been created by the Cabinet Office to celebrate good practice in commissioning and providing social value, took place during Social Enterprise UK’s (SEUK) 2016 Social Value Summit.

Minister for civil society Rob Wilson told delegates at the Summit: “I want to see commissioners motivated by the success of our shortlist and to see social value as a need to have, not a nice to have.”

Durham County Council was named the winner of the Social Value Leadership Award for an Organisation, Fusion 21 took home the Driving Value for Money Award and in keeping with the northern theme, Dave Sweeney from Halton Clinical Commissioning Group in Cheshire was given the Social Value Leadership Award for an Individual.

The organisation that received the award for Promoting and Mainstreaming the Social Value Act was Landmarc, which is a private company contracted by the Ministry of Defence that delivers a variety of services including; ensuring military training estates are safe, effective and sustainable places to train national armed forces.

Chris White MP, who played a key role in pushing the Social Value Act through parliament, was one of the judges of the awards, which received more than 70 applications from across the country.

After joking that he was “delighted” when he found out the Social Value Summit was being held at the British Medical Association HQ on the day that issues over junior doctor contracts had reached a head, Wilson said: “The Social Value Act is a very important tool in helping to shape society… It helps to achieve the best possible value for government and taxpayers.”

He continued: “It’s about getting maximum impact for every £1 we spend.”

Adrian Ringrose, CEO of Interserve, which partnered with SEUK to organise the Social Value Summit, echoed the concerns of others regarding whether the Act is achieving its potential on the ground.

“Personally I’m pretty disappointed actually... that we’re very rarely judged or measured on our ability to deliver social as well as financial value,” said Ringrose. Interserve is a services and construction company with gross revenues of £3.3bn that delivers a number of government contracts.

In Pioneers Post this week Andrew O’Brien from the Charity Finance Group expressed his frustration that the government’s commitment to the Social Value Act "has been heavy on rhetoric and light on substance".

The 2015 review led by Lord Young of Graffham concluded that the Social Value Act should not be extended until “issues of awareness, understanding and measurement” have been solved. Another review of the legislation has not yet been confirmed.


Header image: Liverpool, UK

Photo credit: Alison Benbow