Croydon Council is committed to social value, being one of the first UK councils to have placed social value high on its political agenda.
The Council created the internationally renowned Social Value toolkit for commissioners and have received many accolades including Social Enterprise UK’s “Social Value Leadership Award for an Organisation” in April 2017. Our evaluation provided the Council and their partners with an opportunity to pinpoint their successes and failures, and renew efforts.
This review came at an important time for Croydon Council. With communities and councils needing to be more unified than at anytime before, Croydon Council understand that effective social value practices aren’t simply an exercise in commissioning public services. Achieving social value is about creating positive changes that people inside organisations and communities feel they can be a part of, contribute to and take the lead on.
Our report evaluated the progress that Croydon Council has made in delivering and embedding Social Value since 2012 and recommended a clear action plan that will take the Council from “good to great”. We identified a number of unexplored opportunities that will help the Council to release more Social Value in the Croydon borough.
Our evaluation identified Croydon Council as a ‘mature’ organisation that takes a proactive approach to integrating Social Value into procurement and commissioning.
We observed that the Council has delivered a range of good practices to be built upon. This includes incentivising suppliers, adding performance obligations within contract terms and using novel approaches to procurement. Case studies revealed that driving the creation of Social Value need not be restricted to particular sectors and can be introduced into existing contracts. There were however certain barriers and gaps that need be addressed to allow the Council to become a ‘leader’ in this field.
We examined the market for online measurement tools vis-à-vis Croydon Council’s requirements to capture and measure the whole Social Value lifecycle. We concluded that the Social Value Portal (SVP) was the best available online tool that objectively assesses Social Value through procurement; providing a consistent way for suppliers to report Social Value and evidence what economic return Social Value brings to the Borough.
We also concluded that Croydon Council’s Social Value practices to date have contributed to improving social and economic well-being in Croydon. The Council has applied a range of strategies and initiatives to respond effectively to local priorities and needs. However, approaches to measurement needed to be more joined up – we know some people are better off for example but we don’t know who, how many or by how much.
Whilst some Councils are prioritising higher Social Value weightings within their procurement cycle, we concluded that this isn’t the only or best way to significantly improve well-being across the Borough and risks losing focus on service quality and / or price. We recommended widening the scope of their activities and brokering Social Value creation across and between different sectors / organisations. This approach should seek every opportunity to create Social Value and establish Croydon Council as a ‘leader’ in this field – moving from being a commissioner of Social Value to becoming a curator of it.
This evaluation was undertaken by Made Open with editorial support from Croydon Council to ensure its accuracy. The evaluation was commissioned through the Cooperative Council’s Innovation Network (CCIN). Made Open commissioned Perform Green to provide bespoke support with leadership interviews and market research.