Social Value Is In Good Thanks! Rebel Ideas…Next Generation

I’ve always considered myself to be a rebel, usually one without a cause or a clue. But I’ve always valued new ideas and people that are willing to go against the grain to achieve some kind of new outcome or shatter hard-boiled paradigms.

So, the title of this conference “Rebel Ideas” appealed to me, particularly when it’s tied into a subject that is close to my heart: Social Value (SV).

As someone who isn’t exactly a Spring Chicken, I sometimes wonder if the younger generation is as passionate about subjects that I was (and still am).

In years gone by, the concept of social value was barely an after-thought, if not a fringe topic somewhere faraway in the outer-reaches of the leftfield.

While I’ve been a little heartened how this subject has been adopted by mainstream corporations in recent years, I’ve feared that the encouraging growth of the subject may wither on the vine, overtaken by that ever-present relentless drive for profit.

That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy working at UKREiiF. We are very focused on social value, in fact (and somewhat frustratingly) we are the only events organisation in our field that measures and shares the results of the social value we generate – totalling £3.2m generated in 2022 and 2023 whilst supporting 50 local SMEs and raising nearly £150,000 for charity.

The good news is that Social Value – and it’s future – seems to be in good hands!

The conference saw some very passionate speakers who gave their perspective on their challenges and their successes.

Facilitated by Olivia Sutcliffe chair of Young Professionals in Social Value, the panellists hailed from varied backgrounds, and it was evident that each had individual takes on the subject, created by their own experiences.

For example, Sophie Roffe, Social Value Lead at the Government of Jersey, works within a realm that isn’t required to adhere to UK social value policies because Jersey doesn’t come under UK rule.  She described how only 5% of companies that tender for work on the island have any social value policy at all.

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to promote the topic if it’s not a prerequisite to win work.

At the other end of the scale, I was encouraged greatly by what Rudi Nicholls, Social Value Manager Clarion Housing Group, had to say.

In essence, Clarion is the largest housing association in the UK that provides homes for 350 000 people, and it seems that social value is right at the heart of their procurement process.

From what Rudi said, Clarion has embedded social value firmly into its procurement strategy and has a clear social value policy. They have steering groups within each directorate of the organisation that encourages collaboration. Clarion has KPI’s specifically for social value and an internal budget.

Interestingly, Clarion has mandatory guidelines for potential contractors to follow, but stipulates how they will collaborate with partners to help them fulfil their social value obligations.

Hearing this, I remember thinking that Clarion is leading the way with social value – and not just in the housing sector!

The term ‘meaningful Social Value’ arose several times throughout the session i.e., how to ensure that it’s not all about KPI’s, but achieves genuine social change. I.e., “how to get outcomes” or “what do we actually achieve?”

Loved it that the panel really got down to the brass tacks.

Holly Onstenk, Associate Social Value Consultant CHY Consultancy, suggested that consulting the local community first is the ideal method. She said that asking how many apprenticeships they want, and then asking contractors what they need to do that means that KPI’s and actual results will tie-in.

She suggests that more education and research within the community rather than partnership is perhaps a logical way to get better results.


One of the best topics that the panel discussed was how to ensure that social value sustains itself and the message is passed to coming generations.

Panellist Ali Sajedi Senior Social Value manager London Borough of Waltham Forest recommended that to get the ball rolling, all directorates within organisations should have their own social value policy so that each sector will have a common goal to encourage collaboration and ‘invent a culture’.

In the end they all agreed that a formalised structure within organisations where social value was a recognised role was the way to go.

For me, this bright and passionate panel demonstrated to this old social advocate that social value is here to stay.

Bravo to the panel!

See the video here:

Leave a Comment