Is the drive for “local” delivering the best social value outcomes?

Local authorities are keen to support their residents and the businesses in their local authority area. The elected members have achieved their position by virtue of the constituency electorate, who expect the member to champion their community.

The 10-20-40 mile radius for ‘local spend’ is often of little interest to local authorities, as they consider ‘local’ as being within their constituency boundaries. But supporting businesses in deprived areas is still of value, whether it is ‘local’ or not.

Take for example the case of a building project, where one component is fabricated in an area of deprivation outside of the ‘local’ area, by a social enterprise that supports people with physical or mental disabilities into work.

Does it matter that the people supported are living and working in a different local authority area? The delivery of the building project has still supported people with skills and employment and improved their lives and those of their families.

The Government’s Industrial Strategy calls for greater use of offsite production in its aim to boost productivity. This will cut costs and speed up delivery, but with the majority of construction being carried out far away from site, how does this fit with the drive for localism?

There is a need for a collaborative approach, regardless of county, borough or constituency boundaries. At the recent Future of London Social Value conference, there was general agreement that the socio-economic impact would be far greater with a consistent, joined-up approach across London boroughs.

But this would require a change of mindset within local government to consider social value delivered outside of their constituencies, and they are currently restricted by budget, political boundaries and constituents’ expectations.

Shared social value outcomes

SCAPE is currently working with multiple stakeholders in Birmingham to join up programmes of work being delivered through our frameworks for Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police. Our framework partners have a common set of performance and social value measures to work towards, which align with the wider Birmingham Business Charter measures.

Shared opportunities offered across these projects will build skills, engage young people and support long term unemployed people in Birmingham, and we’d like to see this collaboration model replicated in other parts of the UK.

Alison Ramsey
Social Value and Performance Manager

SCAPE are happy to assist public sector colleagues with the development of their social value policies and toolkits, or to facilitate meetings with other similar organisations that are willing to share their experience and best practice in the area of social value.

At Future of London’s Social Value in Procurement Conference, Alison presented a spotlight session on ‘Asking for More’, encouraging commissioners to be bolder about how much (and what) they’re asking for through social value.

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