The Government's new Social Value Ambassador, Chris White MP, visited our office yesterday to discuss opportunities arising from the Private Member's Bill he introduced in 2010, which has now been made law as the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. Chris spoke to members of the team at Shaftesbury Partnership, and we were also joined by Steve Coles of Intentionality and Annabel Davidson Knight of Calouste Gulbenkian.
Chris came to find out more about the ventures that Shaftesbury Partnership is helping to launch and scale, and was enthusiastic about the role that Social Business Partnership is playing in helping their corporate members bring social impact and job creation into their supply chains.
Our roundtable discussion touched on the potential of the Social Value Act and some of the challenges that social and community organisations face in breaking into public sector supply chains. There was broad agreement that the size of contracts can be prohibitively large for many social enterprises and that more needs to be done to break contracts into bite-size chunks and that upcoming contracts need to be signposted in a clearer way. However, Chris reminded us that “Commissioners are also members of the community and they want to see local initiatives flourish.”
Steve Coles noted that measuring social impact and clearly demonstrating social value continue to be challenges for the sector. Chris agreed while cautioning that there will be a demand for greater rigour in this area. Evidence and clear case studies showing the way procurement from social enterprises has led to job creation will reinforce the message to future governments that the policy mix needs to be designed so as to provide continuing support to the sector.
Shaftesbury Partnership lead partner Patrick Shine concluded with a challenge to be more open about the positive correlation between risk and return. His hope is that leaders will increasingly ask themselves “Why would I want to give up risk if that means giving up return?”