Circular for December 2013
List of Contents
Contacts & Coordinators
Welcome to this month's SAN newsletter, containing news and articles about the practice of social accounting and audit, and measuring social value, from across the UK and around the world.
The Social Audit Network promotes and supports social accounting and audit as the preferred means for organisations operating in the community, social economy and public sectors to report on their social, environmental and economic performance.
Social Accounting Case Study #1
Zebra Collective is a worker coop, based in Plymouth. They have now completed two cycles of social accounting, opting for the self-assessment audit process, which has been verified by an accredited social auditor, Helen Vines (VINESWORKS). During this period there have been changes in the social accounting team. They are now embarking on their third cycle. Bernadette Chelvanayagam, who currently oversees social accounting at Zebra, shares these insights around the benefits and challenges for a small organisation in getting to grips with proving, and improving and social accounting.
“Zebra Collective is working in many areas to fulfil its mission:
“To influence change in public life and personal lives towards our vision of a just and sustainable society, through our work in training,development, support, action research and consultancy.“
Throughout our ten years of existence, we have sought to develop our work along cooperative principles internally, in the development and application of our training courses and our community development projects, as well as providing a critical friend service from time to time. We seek to demonstrate our mission statement, by running an effective and financially viable enterprise, and to work out as we go along what it means to run our business from a values-driven perspective (where those values are ethical rather than the value of money). The social accounting process has challenged how we do this and how we measure this and we realise this will be an ongoing process long after a set is completed.
We knew from an early stage that we couldn't just talk about social responsibility and impact but needed to develop tools for measuring the social impacts of our business activities, so that we can continue to be challenged, learn, develop and to be held accountable for putting this into practice. If we cannot measure and publish progress towards social objectives which also includes failure to make progress (which we have detailed in our last set of social accounts), we realise we will not grow as creatively as we want to and continue to offer high quality work and survive in a time of economic uncertainty. Since we embarked on social accounting and the work to embed social accounting principles in all of our processes we have implemented many effective changes, everything from the wording of our evaluation forms to internal staff development.
Whilst lacking the resources that some organisations may have to devote to social accounting, we have given considerable attention and financial resources to do this work. We have invested some time in seeking the guidance of our auditor, Helen Vines (www.vinesworks.co.uk) and this is proving to be an invaluable resource.
Our last set of social accounts (2011/12), with the central theme of equality, was undertaken during a time of considerable change and internal conflicts - this has been both challenging and valuable learning for Zebra. Some of our significant learnings and changes have come out of the last set of social accounts and they include the following ongoing tasks:
- Define our values in accessible language and other concepts such as environmental sustainability and have a check list of practical ways of achieving this
- Establish indicators by which performance against the objectives and values can be measured
- Gain feedback of all of our employees as well as wider stakeholders about how they view the performance of the collective
- Continue to act on the recommendations and communicate these changes to our key stakeholders
- Devise a marketing plan and actively notice what we do well and to promote this
- Present our social accounts in a more creative way, for example using photos and video
- That all workers of the collective continue to understand and contribute to the social accounting process.”
Social accounting case study #2
In north east England, Five Lamps submitted their social accounts for audit on 19th November 2013. Included with the social accounts was a comprehensive Environmental audit – which they feel has changed the culture of the organisation with regard to its Environmental performance. Five Lamps state that they had not even thought about environmental sustainability before starting to prepare social accounts and now they are much more aware of their resource and energy use, thereby saving money. Key to this has been the appointment of Environmental Champions across the organisation .
Contact is Nicola Hall - email@example.com - 01642 704147
Social value in Salford
Salford has been chosen to take part in national programme to ensure taxpayers get best value from health services. We are one of four areas across England to take part in a national programme to help health care commissioners around the country implement a new law that asks them to be mindful of how the services they buy will most benefit an area and the people living there. Salford CVS, local social enterprises, Salford City Council and Salford's Clinical Commissioning Group make up the team that will share what it learns on the frontline, along with teams in Halton, Calderdale and Milton Keynes. The good practice will then be shared with Councils, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health and Wellbeing Boards across England. The Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force in January 2013. The Act encourages public bodies to buy services that ensure the best value for every £1 spent - those who can deliver health services while doing something else that will benefit the local community such as creating local jobs for those finding it very difficult to find work - young people, or those with disabilities, for example.
Tuesday 22nd October saw the first meeting of Salford's Social Value in Health and Care programme. Supported by Social Enterprise UK and the Centre for Voluntary Action Research, representatives from Salford CVS, local social enterprises, Salford City Council and Salford's Clinical Commissioning Group met to get to grips with the topic of social value and share current understanding of how this can help us to deliver health and wellbeing objectives.
The second Social Value in Health and Care workshop, facilitated by Helen from the Institute of Voluntary Action Research was supported by Mark Cook of Anthony Collins solicitors. Participants heard legal parameters for how commissioning can include social value and from Knowsley MBC about their Social Growth programme. Discussion focussed on how Salford should take forward work around social value and acknowledged the need for all partners to work together to develop both commissioning arrangements and VCSE capacity to report the social value of their work. The aim is to take this forward in a programme of partnership and co-operation to build from locally based initiatives. The key driver is seen as benefit for the citizens of Salford, which includes some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country.
The Social Enterprise Mark
The Social Enterprise Mark has recently announced the results of its social value research programme.
You can download the full report here.
Measuring social value: 28th January
This CLES learning event will introduce participants to measuring social value. For more information click here.
Also, to read how social value could change the economic status of local communities,
SAN gathering 2013/14
The 2014 SAN Gathering will be held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Hosted by Newcastle University Business School, the Gathering will include opportunities to learn about social accounting, network with other organizations and hear keynote speeches around how your organization can show that it is really ‘Making a Difference’.
Newcastle University Business School
5 Barrack Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4SE
Friday 4th April 2014
Speakers will include:
- Prof Tony Chapman (Durham University)
- Chi Onwurah MP
- Prof John Wilson (Newcastle University Business School)
- Tris Lumley (New Philanthropy Capital)
And workshops are planned, including:
- Social Accounting for Housing
- Social Accounting for Transport
- Social Accounting for Leisure
- The Social Audit Process
- Priorities for SAN in the North East
Tony Chapman is a Professorial Fellow at St Chad's College, Durham University. Tony has been working on a range of projects for the last few years on the impact of the third sector on communities. In particular he has focused on the role of social enterprises. He is also interested on the role of third sector organisations in promoting the interests of young people. Recent and current projects have been undertaken for Cabinet Office, National Youth Agency, Northern Rock Foundation, Telefonica Foundation, Involve Yorkshire and Humber and a number of local authorities in North East England.
Professor John Wilson is Director of Newcastle University Business School, where he is also Professor of Strategy. His main research interests are the history of British business, focusing especially on The Co-operative Group and manufacturing sectors such as electronics and engineering, as well as management education and technology transfer. This work has resulted in the publication of fifteen books and over fifty articles and chapters. Future research will concentrate on corporate governance and corporate networks, providing dynamic insights into the nature of business decision-making.
To book your place, contact the SAN office firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the SAN website www.socialauditnetwork.org.uk. SAN is grateful to Newcastle University Business School, Gentoo Housing, the Unity Trust Bank, The Co-op Group, the Northern Rock Foundation and Co-op North East for their support and sponsorship of this event which will allow SAN to be able to offer a number of bursaries to social economy organisations – contact the SAN office for more details.