I was part of a panel today on the Guardian Policy Hub Website looking at how to put social value into government contracts. Here is a summary of my points
As the Government moves over to strictly defined payment by results programmes, run by For-Profit companies, my question was who defines, who measures and who is willing to pay for wider social value.
With the Black Box approach the provider has absolute decision making power of what they do and that can be very specific to an individual’s needs. Rather than wider social value.
I suggested some kind of equivalent to Planning Gain – when you bid for a contract, why not have to meet certain social values too. Either the Funder could define the social value that needs to be met or the organisation could offer their own ideas. Either way they could be scored and added in to the awarding process. It would then be sensible to involve the community in deciding how far it has been met – over time. And for me time is essential. A lot of important social value is slow burn.
Primes are delivering the same public services as used to be run by the Public Sector. But by definition they are doing it in a more fragmented way which means that they do not have the same ability to cross-pollinate good social gains.
A good model for defining social value was the old Sure Start approach – which put what parents wanted central to what should be delivered, alongside an excellent framework of national guideline of what children and parents could expect.
Guardian Public Leaders Network
The Guardian runs regular Qand A sessions with a panel of experts – todays session in full Putting social value into government contracts