First social value ambassador to champion new Act
Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd has announced the appointment of Chris White MP as the first official Social Value Ambassador. White will be working closely with local authorities and the voluntary sector to raise awareness of the Public Services (Social Value) Act, which came into force on 31 January 2013.
The Act opens up more opportunities for social enterprises to deliver public services by ensuring that local authorities and other commissioners procure services with maximum social benefit for the community. White will encourage and oversee an improvement in the social, environmental and economic impact of public services contracts.
Nick Hurd said: “Chris White has played a pivotal role in developing the ground-breaking Social Value Act. His vision has helped ensure that public sector contracts will deliver maximum value to our communities and that taxpayer’s money is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible on public services.”
White initiated the Act as a Private Members Bill in 2010 to open up more public sector contracts to smaller businesses, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. This followed his experience of working as a District Councillor in Warwick when he realised that charities and voluntary organisations were losing out on contracts that they might have won if the submissions and the contracts had been designed with social value in mind.
White said: “I look forward to working with stakeholders in local government and the public sector as well as engaging with civil society organisations and social enterprises on the ground to see how we can make sure that this Act reaches its full potential.”
Under the new legislation, local authority commissioners must now consider how they can improve the social impact of their public service contracts before they start the procurement process. The Act also requires commissioners to consider consulting on the services to be procured.
For example if a local authority wanted to provide a ‘meals on wheels’ service for elderly people, it would consult with stakeholders. If the results of the consultation showed that many potential users suffer from loneliness and social isolation, it could recommend that a service where people are collected and taken to a local community centre for their meals would help combat these problems.
Local Authorities across the country have started implementing this Act. Social Enterprise West Midlands in particular has proactively set up a Local Authority Social Value Champions campaign, with nearly all Local Authorities in the region signing up to become “Local Authority Social Value Champions”.
Guidance on the Act