Benefits of Social Value

In Salford we believe “value” is not confined to the narrow definition that cheapest price is best. Calculations of value for money are increasingly refined to cover whole-life cycle costs including social, economic and environmental matters. Social Value can support work towards managing demand for public services and the wider contribution that Social Value makes to regeneration and creating vibrant sustainable local economies should be actively pursued with renewed vigour in every sphere of business.

Q: What are the community benefits of Social Value?

A: Social Value has the potential to release millions of pounds of public money for community benefit. It encourages smarter spending to not only deliver a proposed service but also address social, economic and environmental issues in the local community.

As available public funds are decreasing, there are often pressures to reduce quality of service provision. Social Value can yield positive medium to longer term outcomes in a cost and resource-efficient way. For example, by employing long-term unemployed Salford residents we are taking people off benefits and into paid employment. This in turn has a beneficial effect on people’s well-being, and has been proven to produce outcomes which might include a reduction in criminal and anti-social behaviour and reducing the burden on health and care services. It also strengthens community cohesion and resilience, as well as fostering a greater sense of happiness and well-being and reducing the ‘benefits bill’.

Likewise, through adjustments to recruitment policies and buildings access, employing disabled people:

  • means that they can become more independent, confident and less reliant upon benefits and help form others.
  • brings additional skills in the workforce, such as the ability to use sign language (BSL).
  • providing that their needs are met and that they have the right amount of support from their manager/ co-workers, they are more likely to stay with the company and their job for longer than able bodied people.
  • can help Salford bridge the employment gap between able bodied and disabled people.

Q: What are the monetary benefits of Social Value

A: The inclusion of Social Value criteria within the tender process can raise the profile of local social, economic and environmental issues e.g. high numbers of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The inclusion of Social Value criteria in public service contracts can also enable alternative providers such as voluntary organisations, community groups and social enterprises to compete against larger organisations in what is traditionally a very restricted market. By encouraging a greater breadth of providers, commissioning organisations may benefit from improved value for money, business partnerships and innovative ideas.

Q: What are the potential risks or challenges of social value?

A: There are a number of challenges to achieving Social Value, including:

  • Embedding Social Value into day-to-day work
  • Securing buy-in from external partners, bidders and  providers
  • Redefining value for money when pitching Social Value against the lowest price for a contract
  • Measuring the ‘value’ of Social Value
  • Monitoring Social Value post-bidding and awarding process

This toolkit aims to help individuals and organisations overcome some of these challenges.

Useful Resources:

Social Value must be a priority for those who spend public money, The Guardian Tuesday 4th February 2014

Communities Count: The Four Steps to Unlocking Social Value, Social Enterprise UK (2014)

Tackling Poverty through Public Procurement, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (2014)

Social Value Act and its impact: the highs and lows, The Guardian Tuesday 24th September 2013