The Social Value Act of 2012 was introduced by the UK government as a way of shapping the commissioning criteria for public and government services. The aim is to ensure that when local or national government agencies commision or develop services, that they “have regard to” the “economic, social and environmental well-being” of the communities and users of public services.
When I talk with people who are working in what the government now calls the Social Sector, it’s apparent that the ethos and the requirement of this legislation are not well known. There are, however, some useful toolkits and information sources online, that can be easily accessed, such as:
What would be intereting to know, is if anyone has experience with the requirements of the act in practice, either as a commissioner of services, or as a bidder to provide services? How does the act work in practice, and what are the main concerns and perception issues that both commisioners and potential providers have to wrestle with?
Particularly, I want to find out if any community media organisations have submitted or considered bidding to provide media and communication services? Is this something that community media groups have the time and the inclination to look at? Does it need a particular level of expertise to understand the process?
In the recently published strategy on Civic Engagement, the DCMS reported that it is the government’s aim to strnegthen the existing Social Value Act, and so that comissioners don’t just have to show ‘regard’ for social and civic groups who might wish to bid to provide services, but that they are able to facilitate and support social providers, a mix of charity, not-for-profit and other community interest companies, who wouldn’t normally consider bidding for services.
The main issues that initially comes to my mind is the building of capability within a social and community organisation to deleiver the services that are being commissioned, so for community media groups to bid to deleiver contracts for publis communication, training and public information work, there would need to be an investement in capacity and capability, without moveing away from the accessible and diverse remit that community media promotes.
So, if anyone has experience working around the Social Value Act, I would be very interested to hear about it.