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Social Value in Brighton and Hove

Social Value in Brighton and Hove


Brighton’s a lovely, diverse city. It’s so
busy, there’s lots always going on, it’s a real tourist town. But what people may not realize
is that there’s lots of areas of deprivation in the city as well. We’ve had quite a massive
population increase from the last census to the current one in 2011. Particularly increases in our BME
community where we’ve had a huge growth of about 23,000. The other
level of diversity is around deprivation. We have some very affluent areas
in Brighton. There’s also sadly in the east of our city, six percent of our children live in
poverty. At the moment we have around 450 members who are all community groups, voluntary organizations, charities in Brighton and Hove. That’s about a quarter of
the size of the sector in the city. There’s over 2,000 groups. The program provides an opportunity
to bring together partners from across different sectors to work together to
look at how commissioning of social value is working in the city. The
opportunities for that have really declined in recent years and it’s quite rare to
have the resource and the opportunity to collaborate around those things. It’s really
thinking, when we spend out our public money how can we do it in a way
that really benefits communities and how can we support communities to do things
for themselves. Social value is wider than commissioning. The Social Value Act is predominantly around that buying of goods and services, but actually, and
particularly how we’ve taken it in Brighton and Hove, it’s about how we make every public pound count, how we maximize what we get because we are getting less and less. We
talked a lot about what we wanted to achieve and it had to be very pragmatic. We wanted to ensure we were influencing commissioning that was happening, right
from the word go. So we involved some commissioners who were
designing a commissioning program, and we also agreed that we wanted a product at the end of it that would inform all future
commissioning and systemize the approach that was taken in Brighton and Hove. The focus really was about improving the city’s approach to social value,
it having been around for a couple of years at that point and people grappling with
what it meant and how they needed to respond to it. It’s about things like what
communities are doing, what people are doing what’s the added value to
the person in the community of things like volunteering. What’s the added value of communities
working together, and how can we stimulate that, and how can we make sure
that when we’re procuring services that, that’s at the heart of it and we’re
not just thinking about price we’re not just thinking for us about clinical
quality, we’re really thinking about how we can benefit Brighton and Hove. I think the
sector’s perspectives on social value is quite different to the public sector’s
perspective, because it’s so much about what we do. So I think sometimes we have
struggled, and I count my own organization in this, to describe our
social value separately or on top of, or as part of who we are what we do anyway.
So I think when when we’ve been considering how we demonstrate our social value in commissioning it’s been a bit messy. I was looking at the program and
thinking how can we untangle that for us and for
our members to better demonstrate their impact. What I really hoped to achieve
from the program was raising the profile and people having something practical to
use that would help them in their day-to-day jobs. With budget savings in
local government and the challenges on commissioning on a much smaller budget,
having to think of more and more different things in the commissioning
process is a real challenge. You want to get it absolutely right. Having not just
a framework that gets that big commitment from the organizations from
the chief executives, from lead members but something that’s real for our
commissioners and our procurement team, and suppliers as well. You can talk
theoretically, you can explore what the definition of social value is, but actually what
you want to do is get in there, get it being used. We worked with Social Enterprise UK and the Instituite of Voluntary Action Research, and we had support instead of helping us work
out what we wanted to do in the city. I really wanted to make sure colleagues
knew what it was, and start to really embed it in our
processes, rather than it being something new, that was over here,
and we knew we had to do it but weren’t quite sure what it was. One of the great things that the
facilitator did at the beginning was, ask us what do you want to get from social value. And
each, community and voluntary sector, health, could all say actually this is what we want, and we
all got a common understanding of where we were and our perspectives of it, but
no one was asked to change. And actually understanding each other, outside of
formal procurement, outside of former service redesign is a a really
great opportunity and something we don’t get often. And also the time. Having us
keep to a program and keep it a priority that was a godsend. The program is really useful in the way
in which it brings people from different areas together to learn and share their
approaches and ideas on social value. There was a great exercise we did at one point where, Charlotte, the facilitator brought in examples of others toolkits, guidance
frameworks. And we actually spent time going through lots of different documents and
people saying we like this we don’t like that. Literally what is it you
don’t like. What communicates to you as a community and voluntary organization, what
communicates to you as a commissioner. We didn’t discuss the definition very
much we just stole it blatantly from somebody else with a bit of a tweak. The
good thing about having IVAR on board was that they could say well this is what
the other areas looked at, where they’ve had a similar conversation and they
started developing a framework. We want to say what is social value, what do we
mean by this, and what are we going to do with it, and and and how are people going
to commit to it and what does that commitment look like in practice. The
pledge for example in it, is really clear. There’s six statements, and this is
what we’d expect you to be doing. The message from the community and voluntary sector was, this is great your going to sign up to a framework, and councils going to pass it, ccg governing
body will too, but are your commissions going to be different,
what’s going to be different. We need to make this happen and that’s
where the evolution for the guide came from. We said we do actually need to
produce something practical that we then need to back up with training and development opportunities. Hopefully we’ll see more more
collaboration and more co-design in other processes, as a result of people
having the opportunity to be together in a room realize how much of a shared
vision they’ve got for things and develop a shared understanding and
approach. The foot doesn’t come off the gas because we’ve been to committee
with it now, so it’s out there it’s got political support, and we’ve committed to
taking an annual report back to our neighborhood, communities and equalities
committee in the council with how has this been used in commissioning and procurement.
I think there is a need for training but I really think it’s an
opportunity now for our commissioners, especially as funding is so tight, to
really think about what the added value of the contracts are. And to use social value
to think about other approaches interesting approaches, thinking beyond
clinical things and quality things and really thinking about how what we do can
actually help the community in ways aside from just pure health. It helped us
to fast-track our work and meant we got to a product much quicker than we might have
done otherwise. We weren’t reinventing wheels and we could really learn from
others achievements and thinking around social value. As the CEO of an
organization in the voluntary sector there’s great pressure on
training learning and development budgets for the team and I’ll often not
get an opportunity to learn and develop. I’ll be very choosy about the
things I engage in. But this has provided a learning and development opportunity
whilst at the same time furthering our work and the sector’s work in the city, so it’s
a beautiful win-win.

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