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Social Value Brokerage, what is it and why is it important?

This blog was co-authored by Dan Ebanks (founder of the Social Value Exchange), Beth Pilgrim (co-founder of Supply Change) and Ben Carpenter (Chief Exec at Social Value UK). Social Value UK, the Social Value Exchange and Supply Change are facilitating Social Value Brokerage workshops throughout August.

Local government has performed heroics in the response to the Covid 19 pandemic. We’ve spoken to lots of local government folk who have described to us the enormous amount of work they have done. Long hours and long weeks, particularly in the early phase of the pandemic. Food supply systems built from scratch. Thousands of vulnerable people contacted and supported. Engaging and working with other local government partners.

This brings us to the role of our local community organisations. We think it’s now generally accepted that if you want to move fast locally, you need to do this with your local VCSE organisations involved right from the start. An example of this is the great work going on in Hackney, where the CVS organisation was part of the response planning from the very beginning. And, of course, the impact of our Mutual Aid groups — fantastic work from a genuinely bottom-up movement.

Similarly, we’ve seen social enterprises step up and ensure important goods and services have been provided. Many have pivoted their models to deliver their services online ensuring that they continue to reach communities most affected by the lockdown. Covid-19 has also demonstrated the innovation and dynamism of the sector with some social enterprises being created out of the crisis to provide crucial support such as food packages to the NHS and PPE supplies.

And we’ve seen the big corporates stepping up and doing their bit — often giving back-up to local community groups with free resources, such as laptops and skills based expertise. Indeed, Business In The Community’s National Business Response Network has seen numerous offers of support from the private sector to local community organisations — over 670 within 6 weeks of being set up.

There is a saying that people are at their best when times are at their worst and we think this is true for this pandemic. But there’s no reason why, at an organisational level, the good things we’ve just laid out can’t continue. Particularly when there is an existing piece of government legislation that enables this coordination of public, private and VCSE sectors. All these good things can be formalised in the public procurement process by applying the Social Value Act and taking the Social Value Brokerage approach.

What is Social Value Brokerage?

Social Value Brokerage is an umbrella term used to describe the connecting of key stakeholders to create additional community benefits and local economic growth, typically through the procurement process. The brokerage creates mutual gain — this normally means:

Contracting authorities — including councils, housing associations and health commissioners — achieve their local placed based outcomes

Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise organisations secure extra resources, including government contracts

Suppliers win government work and deliver on their Social Value obligations.

Who we are and why we’re working together

Ben Carpenter, Chief Exec, Social Value UK: ‘We have always recognised the need for cross sectoral relationships. Our network is diverse and we have the ability to bring people from public, private and third sector together under the social value agenda. We started to call this ‘Social Value Brokerage’ and hosted a session on this at the National Social Value Conference in London in January 2020, which involved Beth and Dan. The response was great, and based on that, we thought our membership and the wider Social Value community needed to know a bit more about this.’

Dan Ebanks, Founder, Social Value Exchange: ‘We’ve been banging the drum about Social Value Brokerage for a while now. For us, if Social Value is about creating community benefits, then your local community groups have to be at the heart of that process. That’s what Social Value Brokerage is all about, and it’s what our platform, the Social Value Exchange, does. The Supply Change model works really well alongside ours — we both support local community groups and social enterprises, but at different points in the journey, and we have a similar approach to product.’

Beth Pilgrim, Co-Founder, Supply Change: ‘Supply Change is a platform that connects organisations looking for goods and services with social enterprise suppliers who can deliver quality and impact. By simply switching supply of everyday goods and services such as cleaning or coffee organisations can create positive impact through their spending. We believe that brokerage solutions like ours and the Social Value Exchange are the future of meaningful social value creation and we’re excited to work together to see the impact we can create jointly.’

The workshops

We are running 3 morning sessions on Social Value Brokerage in throughout August:

Tuesday 4 August: Introduction to Social Value Brokerage — concepts, principles and impact

Tuesday 11 August: Tools, case studies and resources

Tuesday 18 August: Embedding Social Value Brokerage in your organisation– quick wins and longer term tactics.

These sessions are for public sector organisations only. We will be repeating the sessions for VCSE organisations and for suppliers.

Tickets are available at Eventbrite: There are free early bird tickets!

It’s been a challenging few months. We now have an opportunity, and maybe a responsibility, to #BuildBackBetter. Part of that is normalising the things that have worked well.

Social Value Brokerage helps to do that, and it will put local capacity building on an ongoing and sustainable footing, which is good for everyone concerned, the most vulnerable in our communities in particular.


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