Growing the social sector through a Social Value Model – Knowsley Council

Posted on 19th May, 2014

Knowsley is growing the social sector through social value approaches, with the aim of building community resilience and, where appropriate, reducing public service demand.

Why a Social Value Model?

Knowsley has a policy driver to grow the social sector (“social growth”) so that communities can increase their resilience and solve where possible their problems. The intended impact of this is to ensure where appropriate demand in public services can be reduced. To support this approach Knowsley has developed a range of products that support social sector growth including:

  • Social Enterprise Business Support;
  • Social Finance through the Knowsley Foundation;
  • Development of Public Service Mutuals e.g. Knowsley Youth Mutual;
  • Community Led Solutions to Independent Travel;
  • Asset Transfer of Public Sector Buildings to Social Sector Organisations e.g. schools, leisure buildings, community centres;
  • ‘One Approach to Volunteering’ matching volunteers to opportunities;
  • Social Sector Collaboration to enable organisations to bid for bigger contracts;
  • Maximising Social Value.

Social Value is a key tool to help grow the social sector. For example its use in procurement enables social sector (and public and private sector) organisations when completing tender returns to demonstrate their social impact. This can be evaluated through the tender process which means organisations demonstrating social value will score more highly on this element of tender evaluation. More contracts delivering social value results in a growth of the social sector. More organisations delivering social value results in an increase in the strength of the social sector as it enables the sector to be in a better position to win contracts and attract investment.

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 made it a duty on public bodies for the first time, to consider social value in procurement and related activity. The Act applies to the provision of services or the provision of services together with the purchase or hire of goods or the carrying out of works.

The development of a social value model in Knowsley supports the growth of the social sector, meets the requirements of the Act, and is one of our cooperative principles.

What are the key features of Knowsley’s approach?

(1)  Co-produced – The model was designed with representatives of the public, private and social sectors working together with public sector commissioners, procurement and legal staff.
(2)  Clear Knowsley definition – Social Value in Knowsley is defined as
“Outcomes, measures and activity that will create strong and well connected public, private and social sectors that enable communities to be more resilient”.
(3)  Outcomes and Measures that can be translated into procurement and performance frameworks – Knowsley’s social value model has 6 outcomes and 29 measures examples of which are detailed overleaf in table 1.
(4)  Clear Statement and Guidance to support it’s intended use – A statement on the Council’s website makes it clear and transparent about how social value will be used by the Council, and the Council’s procurement policy and a guidance note support staff to understand how to incorporate social value into procurement processes.

Table 1 – Examples of Knowsley’s Social Value Outcomes and Measures

Outcomes (6 in total) Examples of Measures (29 in total)
1. Increase in Community Resilience – Proportion of working age population in work
2. Reduction in Demand for Public Service – No. of people supported to live independently
3. Impact of Volunteers – No. of new volunteers
4. Impact of Community Businesses (CBs) – No. of CBs with social purpose linked to communities
5. Private Sector Investment in Communities – Level of investment in Knowsley as part of their Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR)
6. Residents Making Socially Responsible Decisions – Increase in recycling rates for household waste


(5)  Core and Added Social Value in Procurement Specifications and Tender Evaluation Frames – The Act enables the use of what Knowsley would consider ‘added’ social value or methods of production in delivery of a contract. For example a provider may use volunteers or social enterprises in delivery of the contract. Where the Social Value Act applies Knowsley aims to have up to 10% of the specification and tender evaluation frame for ‘added’ social value. The commissioner of a service has the choice of what they want to purchase and they may decide to purchase ‘core’ social value. Some of the social value measures, such as ‘number of people supported to live independently’, maybe purchased for example in contracts such as domiciliary care. The aim is to use core social value in any procurement process where social value measures are appropriate to purchase, and aim for 10% of the specification and tender evaluation frame for ‘core’ social value. In this way when the Public Services (Social Value) Act applies up to 20% of the specification and tender evaluation could be social value related.

(6)  Wider Use – Knowsley Council is incorporating social value into a range of appropriate processes including: assets transfers; land sales; service performance frameworks; corporate performance indicators. Other public sector partners have signed up to the use of social value.

What is it’s initial Impact?

  • Procurement processes have embedded within them the use of social value.
  • An initial evaluation, only part completed, shows at this stage that 17 contracts in 2013/14 used social value outcomes and measures in tender specification and evaluation frames including : Domiciliary Care (£8m); Tree Work (£250k); Young Carers (£50k); Sexual Health Services (£2.9m);
    Substance Misuse (£5.3m); Smoking Cessation (£1.6m); Youth Services-Knowsley Youth Mutual (£2.7m).
  • Neighbourhood Delivery Services are incorporating social value measures in their new performance framework and benchmarking their delivery of these.
  • Asset transfers for 8 community centres and 1 school site made a condition of the peppercorn rent the delivery of a range of social value measures.

To discuss Knowsley’s social value model, please get in touch with cooperative advocate Ian Bancroft, Head of Social Growth, who can be reached at: