Businesses need to embrace the importance of social value as well as financial value if they are to survive, delegates were told yesterday at the Social Value Summit.
The summit was organised by Social Enterprise UK and the support services company Interserve, with help from Business in the Community, and celebrated the rise of social value and the role of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 in promoting the concept. The act requires public bodies to consider how the services they commission and buy might improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of an area.
Adrian Ringrose, chief executive of Interserve, told the summit that the private sector needed to take social value more seriously and warned that those that failed to integrate social value into their work would face "irrelevance and obsolescence".
He said: "I find it really hard to imagine that any business that doesn’t stand for something about its role in society will survive.
"Of course, creating shareholder value is the central purpose of any enterprise, but I don’t think it is credible, let alone moral, to think about shareholder value in a vacuum without thinking as well about the impact generating that shareholder value has on the communities and stakeholders."
Ringrose said he was disappointed that his company was "very rarely judged and measured by our ability to deliver social as well as financial value", and too many contracts placed an emphasis on financial, rather than social, outcomes. He said he wanted to see work "that allows us to sell value and imagination, not simply compete on cost on some sort of race to the bottom".
Speaking at the summit, Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, said social value should be seen by commissioners as a "need to have, not a nice to have".
The inaugural Cabinet Office Social Value Awards were also presented at the summit. Durham County Council won the Social Value Leadership Award for an Organisation; Dave Sweeney from Halton Clinical Commissioning Group won the Social Value Leadership Award for an Individual; Landmarc Support Services won the Promoting and Mainstreaming the Social Value Act Award; and Liverpool-based consultancy Fusion21 won the Driving Value for Money Award.