OCS ‘unable to exert influence’ on behalf of social enterprise, says SEUK

28 Nov 2017 News

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK

Social Enterprise UK, the infrastructure body for the social enterprise sector, has criticised the government’s industrial strategy for its lack of focus on social value.

SEUK has also published a report from Chris White, the former MP who introduced the Social Value Act to Parliament, calling for the government to take much stronger action to include social value in procurement.

And it has reiterated a call for the social enterprise brief to be moved out of the Office for Civil Society and into the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), saying the OCS does not have the power to influence other departments on behalf of the sector.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of SEUK, said the government industrial strategy, published yesterday, did not go far enough.

“This is a step forward when what is needed is a step change,” he said. “It is bewildering that the government has chosen not to address procurement and particularly social value in the industrial strategy given the support for this across the business community, public sector procurement teams, the voluntary sector, and think tanks. Brexit looks to have blinded our government from seeing the levers it has at its disposal to reshape the economy and kick-start growth.

“Despite the energy and ambition of our new minister, it appears clear the Office for Civil Society is unable to exert any influence over BEIS for the benefit of the sector and wider society. It is time to move responsibility for social enterprise to BEIS so that our voice can be heard and our ideas considered.”

Social value report published

Chris White’s report into social value, Our Money, Our Future, makes a series of recommendations to improve the focus on social value. These include:

  1. The Act needs to be extended ‘horizontally’ by including goods and works, but also to planning and assets and wider infrastructure.
  2. The Act needs to be extended ‘vertically’ by changing ‘consider’ to ‘account for’ in the language of the Act, and requiring this throughout the commissioning cycle, including contract management.
  3. Social value needs to be included as a precursor and core element in devolution agreements, requiring devolved areas to include it in their joined-up commissioning and procurement.
  4. These changes need to be supported by clearer statutory guidance by central government, including case studies, example weightings and removing thresholds.
  5. A biennial State of Social Value Audit should be conducted independently but with the support of the government.

 

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