Opening up the market to community-based groups, socially driven enterprises, mutuals and co-operatives – articulated within and beyond the Open Public Services White Paper – begins to set forth an ambitious agenda for public service reform. But to shape truly transformative services and deliver a more localised social economy, an additional consideration emerges as pivotal. Whilst cost and efficiency are indeed crucial for the improvement of public services, it is their social value that must above all be recognised, appreciated and cultivated throughout the commissioning process. Delivering additional social benefits reaches beyond narrow targets, boosting communities’ and service users’ resilience and generating associational models of support.
Following on from the enactment of Public Services (Social Value) Bill, ResPublica hosted a private half-day conference to explore both the challenges and opportunities to promote social value in the commissioning and delivery of public services. A panel of expert commentators, entrepreneurs and politicians convened to discuss how we can now shape truly transformative services and deliver a more localised social economy.
The questions set for discussion were:
- How can 'social value' be effectively integrated into public service commissioning?
- How should we measure or demonstrate social value at a local level?
As a response to the reflections raised at the conference, Chris White MP, the primary sponsor of the Public Services (Social Value) Bill, will be writing a ResPublica Green Paper to identify and establish innovative policy ideas to take such thinking and practice beyond the Bill.
ResPublica is also seeking to establish a consortium of partners and expert advisers to contribute toward our ongoing work. Related forthcoming research from ResPublica to emerge from our engagement with this agenda includes:
- Promoting Social Value in Public Service Commissioning: Beyond the Public Services (Social Value) Act, a ResPublica Green Paper to be authored by Chris White MP
- Capturing Social Value, Measuring Social Impact
- Extending Social Value into Private Markets and Business
Throughout the coming Parliamentary year, ResPublica will be engaging with the social value agenda, promoting the importance of integrating the 'social' as part of core delivery and local practice. For further information with regards to this pipeline of work, please contact Caroline Julian, Senior Researcher and Project Manager, at caroline.julian@respublica.