A very interesting article by Jamie Hailstone in New Start Mag about the Social Value Act.
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Project design – by thinking through the outcomes sought and using the calculator to consider the evidence that the project will need to collect, the engine will test the project’s proposed approach and how it contributes to: the sustainability of a geographical area, the project’s direct benefit to the community, and its benefit to an individual. When a calculation is completed, it provides helpful projections (particularly through encouraging you to unearth previously unforeseen outcomes) to support the development of projects/activities in the future.
Project outcomes – the engine provides a monetary value to the outcomes produced by your project, demonstrating the full range of impacts you have achieved rather than just the outputs alone.
Comparison – the measure is a means of comparing (in relative terms) the value of your project’s achievements and benchmarking them against the results of other projects that have undertaken a social value assessment. If you are a funder, the engine will enable you to accumulate a bank of data over time that demonstrates the generic characteristics of certain types of projects. For example, capital investment in community buildings will have a longer duration of impact (due to the physical manifestation of the investment) than many revenue projects (where the impact will only be linked to the beneficiaries for the duration of the funding itself). Projects which deliver outcomes in expensive public services activities, for example health care or crime prevention, have a relatively higher Social Value than those which cover less expensive areas of public activity. The engine will help you understand these issues in terms of your planning processes, particularly when you use it for forecasting.
Engagement – the Engine has been developed to democratise the assessment of social value. It provides anyone with an interest, with the tools, to undertake their own assessment of social value. These include academically robust financial proxies related to the key components of a sustainable community. By involving those individuals who have participated in a project in assessing its outcomes the engine helps people identify why and how it helped them and highlights any areas where it was less successful and might be changed in the future. It puts them in the technical driving seat.
The traditional process of social return on investment follows 6 stages:
- Identifying the social value delivered by the project and the geographical area they cover.
- Working with those who have been involved to ensure that the assumptions made are agreed by everyone.
- Evidencing the outcomes and the value.
- Taking account of factors that might affect the intensity of the project outcomes – asking, for example, which of the project outcomes would have occurred anyway.
- Calculating the Social Return on Investment by dividing the value of the outcomes by the cost of delivering them.
- Reporting the findings.
Our system has been developed to give a wider context to the outcomes of a project. We use the eight indicators of a sustainable community produced by the UK government in 2005 known as the Bristol Accord.
The Bristol Accord followed initial research commissioned by Government from Sir John Egan in 2003-4. This potent approach has stood the test of time and if anything is more relevant today. We now live in an era of diminished resources, where communities not only need to do more for themselves but understand the impacts of their outcomes on their neighbourhoods.
Our methodology enables outcomes to be grouped in a manner that allows comparison on more than simply monetary terms. It puts “place” at the heart of assessing social value. It helps public bodies evaluate and forecast the impact of the interventions they support on their patch.