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Partnership launches social value guide

A new toolkit has today been launched that aims to provide housing professionals with a practical guide that will enable them to create lasting social value in their communities.

‘Communities Count: A practical guide to unlocking social value’ has been developed by Wates Living Space and partners, as a follow up to in-depth research undertaken last year.

Together with partners, Social Enterprise UK, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), PwC and Orbit Group, Wates Living Space commissioned a comprehensive survey of over 200 housing associations in 2014, in response to the Government’s implementation of the Social Value Act. This research revealed that two-thirds of housing professionals believe that delivering social value leads to improved service delivery and over half believe it results in cost savings.

Its findings have now been incorporated into a new practical toolkit as part of the second phase of the project, aiming to equip housing professionals with a means to embed social value across their business and at the heart of their community.

It guides them through four key stages:

1. DEFINE – the vision
2. INTEGRATE – across the business
3. PARTNER – deliver through partnership
4. MEASURE – the difference

Through these four stages, the toolkit offers housing commissioners practical advice on how to integrate social value into their procurement requirements, appropriate proportionality standards for measurement as well as examples of best practice.

Launching the toolkit at the CIH Housing Conference in Manchester, Wates Living Space and its partners held a breakfast briefing where each provided a perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing the housing sector in delivering social value. The event was aimed at encouraging the sharing of best practice on ways to generate social value.

Paul Tennant, chief executive of Orbit Group, said: “As a business with a core social purpose, delivering and measuring our social value is vital. The toolkit provides housing providers, like Orbit, with a practical tool to be able to ensure social value is visible and makes a real difference to our businesses, but more importantly the lives of our customers.”

Gavin Smart, deputy chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said:“Last year’s research showed that delivering social value leads to better services which are also value for money – it’s a win-win. We hope this practical new toolkit will help housing organisations to define and deliver social value and to measure its impact effectively.”

Nick Temple, Deputy CEO of Social Enterprise UK, commented: "Last year's Communities Count report provided robust evidence of the benefits to be gained from taking a social value approach: including cost savings, access to innovation and better community relations. It also identified some of the key challenges in translating potential into practice for organisations on the ground.

Social Enterprise UK is therefore delighted to be launching this toolkit which provides practical advice, guidance and examples to those working in commissioning, procurement and delivery. As demonstrated by this project itself, this is best achieved in partnership across sectors and with a long-term commitment to change."

The original Communities Count: the four steps to unlocking social value report can be viewed here.