What is social value

What is Social Value

Social Value is the ‘catch-all’ term used to describe the difference an organisation or project can make to the community they are operating within.

Social value asks the question:

  • ‘If £1 is spent on the delivery of services, can that same £1 be used, to also produce a wider benefit to the community?’ (Social Enterprise UK)

Social – Economic – Environmental

Known as the ‘Three Pillars of Sustainability’, delivering outcomes in these three areas should enable organisations to move beyond delivering only profit and loss outcomes, and move to produce a “Triple Bottom Line”. Ideally the three elements should be in balance, and if they are it will produce a sustainable future society by making life more bearable, viable and equitable.


SV ven

Increasingly voluntary, community and social enterprise groups are being asked to demonstrate their Social Value in these areas. And requirements to prove Social Value are likely to increase with the passing of Public Service (Social Value) Act and its implementation from January 2013.

Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 requires public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental wellbeing when procuring and awarding contracts.

In their Guide to the Public Services (Social Value Act), Social Enterprise UK describes Social Value as:

'A way of thinking about how scarce resources are allocated and used. It involves looking beyond the price of each individual contract and looking at what the collective benefit to a community is when a public body chooses to award a contract.

But while the Social Value Act means that for the first time Local Authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the National Health Service among others are required to take Social Value into account, and they will do as a result both of austerity measures and legislative requirements, Social Value is already the unspoken, inherent product of VCSE organisations. The real impact of VCSE driven groups, projects and services is actually felt at the local and individual level and VCSE organisations are therefore perfectly placed to meet the demand for Social Value from public sector bids and contracts.

Salford CVS wants to draw attention to the fact that social value is the unique selling point (USP) for all voluntary, community and social enterprises in Salford and this is a unique opportunity for them to demonstrate their Social Value to a wider audience, to show the impact they are having on real people’s lives.

The key principles to evidence a Social Value approach are to:

  • Embed Social Value: adapt your policies and governance arrangements to emphasise the role social value will play in services
  • Deliver Social Value: implement social value through commissioning and procurement processes from assessment of assets and needs through to advertisement and pre-qualification questionnaires, specification, evaluation and contract compliance.
  • Demonstrate Social Value: evidence how and when you have introduced social value into service delivery and the impact that this has made.

You may already measure the Social Value you create. If not you should think about doing this. There are heaps of resources out there to help you do it (take a look at our webpages for further information).

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Salford CVS & Volunteer Centre
Registered address 
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5 Irwell Place 
Salford, M30 0FN

Tel: 0161 787 7795 
Email: office@salfordcvs.co.uk


Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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