More than two-thirds of local authorities and housing associations say delivering social value has led to better service delivery and community relations according to a new report released today by Social Enterprise UK.
‘Communities Count: the Four Steps to Unlocking Social Value’ is the largest and most comprehensive survey since the introduction of the Social Value Act, examining the views of commissioners, their progress in delivering social value, and the role of social enterprise.
It reveals wide-ranging benefits for local authorities and housing associations seeking to create social value in communities across the UK:
- 71% say delivering social value has led to better service delivery.
- 52% say it has resulted in cost savings.
- 82% report that it has led to an improved image of their organisation.
- 78% say it has led to better community relations.
- Additional benefits for communities include improved wellbeing and quality of life for tenants and residents; keeping spend in local economies and reductions in crime.
- Additional benefits for housing associations and local authorities include increased staff motivation and support for innovation (by changing mind-sets about how services can be delivered).
- The majority (80%) of local authorities and housing associations say that employment is the number one local social value priority, followed by youth employment (54%) and training / volunteering (51%).
- More than a third (39%) say the Public Services (Social Value) Act has had a high impact. Just over half (56%) report a low impact, largely because they were doing it already.
Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “The findings in this report are very good news and clearly demonstrate that integrating social value can bring a wide range of benefits to local authorities and housing associations and the communities in which they operate. It shows social value can be viewed as a strategy for innovation and cost savings, not just as the creation of positive social outcomes or, at worse, compliance to the Act.”
The report, commissioned by Wates Living Space, PwC, the Chartered Institute of Housing, and Orbit Group finds that while the Public Services (Social Value) Act has created a step-change in how some housing associations and local authorities consider social value, barriers to creating social value remain, including defining what social value is, and how it can be measured.
- More than a third (37%) of respondents report difficulty in defining social value. This is a bigger issue for local authorities than housing associations (43% versus 33%).
- More than half report measurement as the main barrier to implementation: 53% during the commissioning process and 55% post-commissioning.
- Two-thirds (66%) say they would like further guidance on social value measurement.
- Despite two thirds (60%) of respondents having a nominated lead for social value, only 37% currently have a defined social value policy.
Gavin Smart, director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “This research shows that delivering social value leads to better services which are also value for money – it’s a win-win. Although the housing industry is already doing a lot to take advantage of the Social Value Act, this research shows that we can and should be doing more, and that we could be doing more to measure the benefits effectively.”
Paul Tennant, Chief Executive, Orbit Group, adds: "In today's society it is no longer enough to simply have a community investment fund or an apprenticeship agreement with suppliers - we have to define and measure what value our investment adds to our customers and communities."
Report recommendations for local authorities and housing associations
1) Adopt a written policy and a nominated lead for social value.
2) View social value as a route to innovation and cost savings, not just as the creation of positive social outcomes or simply compliance to the Act.
3) Integrate and consider social value across all services, regardless of size.
4) Work with, buy from, start-up and support social enterprises to help deliver social value.
5) Measure the social value being created - against a clear sense of what is trying to be achieved, proportionately, and throughout the length of contracts.
To download the full report, click here.