Circular for June 2015

List of Contents


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Contacts & Coordinators

Social Audit Network June 2015

Again, a huge ‘Thank You’ to everyone who helped to make the 2015 SAN Gathering ‘Social Accounting and Audit, Making it Work for Me and My Organisation’ such a success.


Presentations and images are now available to download at


Social Accounting and Audit – a Framework for Double Devolution and Third Sector procurement?

Nearly 10 years ago, an article written by SAN Director, Anne Lythgoe, was published in Third Sector Magazine…. Elements of that article are still pertinent today with the rush towards greater devolution of government powers and budgets…

‘In January 2006, David Milliband stood up at the New Local Government conference and said ‘at local level we need a stronger framework of opportunity and responsibility …. - in fact a double devolution, not just to the Town Hall but beyond, to neighbourhoods and individual citizens’.  Since that time, effort to devolve responsibility and streamline central Government has been continuing apace.  If this double devolution is to work, neighbourhoods and citizens must be ready and able to take the opportunity and responsibility.  And they must convince Town Halls that they can deliver.

Health Minister Patricia Hewitt has issued a challenge to social enterprise in the health sector in her pamphlet for the Social Enterprise Coalition (now SEUK), ‘Social Enterprise in Primary and Community Care’, expressing her desire to ‘make full use of the Third Sector and Social Enterprise’.  The pamphlet goes on to identify why health commissioners should contract with the Third Sector, and that social enterprises must clearly state the benefits and ‘added value’ which they can offer.

The Third Sector is a complex mix of charities, Community Interest Companies, co-operatives and other enterprises, which themselves have complex structures, funding regimes and service delivery.  There is a mind set of being done to rather than taking control, and an environment  often striving to survive for the benefit of others.  Third Sector organisations need to be able to promote their individuality, function and benefits in a bid to take the opportunity and responsibility.  The Government has issued the challenge – the Third Sector has lobbied for recognition, but now it must prove its worth.

Opportunities exist now more than ever before for social enterprise to show what it has to offer, and rise to the challenge of meeting the Government’s agenda.  But the sector needs to find a way of demonstrating and being clear of the impact which it is having, and always has had within communities and neighbourhoods.

Most social enterprises are small and locally based.  They do not have complex quality assurance procedures or glossy promotion.  Instead they have to rely on their local success to ‘sell’ their services.

Social Accounting and Audit is not a new concept, having been implemented in various forms and by a wide range of organisations since the 1970s.  But there is a growing number of Third Sector organisations that have adopted this approach to help them measure their overall impact and quality by integrating the ‘proving – improving – and be accountable’ processes into their day-to-day operations.  This approach is led for the sector by the Social Audit Network, and has indeed revolutionised the way that community and social organisations can be run.

Social Accounting and Audit accurately describes what an organisation is achieving in economic, social and environmental terms, and allows it to demonstrate to others what it is and what it does. It assesses social and community enterprises in a holistic way, incorporating both the views of everyone connected with the organisation and measuring indicators of its success. The framework also includes independent verification, an audit process whereby the results can be proved to be robust and reliable, which can give confidence to both the organisation and the Town Hall looking to devolve responsibility or place a contract.’


Whatever your political beliefs, devolution is a reality in the UK, and the social economy needs to work with this and ensure that social value is a key part of public sector plans going forward. Whether devolution of power is given for ‘opportunity and responsibility’ or as a means to share the pain of austerity, being able to ‘prove’ social value and impact will become more and more important in the months and years to come.

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SAN in Scotland

Following on from our look at community empowerment in Scotland last month, SAN is further developing its good links with the Social Enterprise Academy in Scotland and recently ran a Prove Improve and Account 2-day workshop in Edinburgh. Social accounting is a key element of the measurement of social impact through the Community Empowerment Act.

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Train to be a social accountant:

Current dates for training can be found at the SAN website and include:

8th - 9th July 2015

PIA 2 day course


16th - 17th September 2015

PIA 2 day course


16th – 17th September 2015

PIA 2 day course


October 2015 (dates tbc*)

PIA 2 day course


10th - 11th November 2015

PIA 2 day course


*Anyone interested in the PIA course in Leeds should contact Bernadette Speight ( for more information.  

The PIA Workshop aims to introduce participants to the process of social accounting and audit and to explore the resources in the SAN Guide and CD from both doer and facilitator point of view. Learning outcomes include to be able to compile a set of social accounts of one’s own organisation and present these for audit; and to be able to assist others in the process.

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NEW Social Audit training course

SAN has been piloting a new Prove, Improve, Account course in Salford. Aimed at commissioning and procurement staff, the 2 day course mixes learning about social accounting and audit from a provider’s point of view, with applied tasks to ‘social value proof’ a service specification and evaluate responses to ‘social value’ questions in a tender situation.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this course should contact the SAN office or email Anne Lythgoe (

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International SAN

Wonbong Jang, the founder of SAN Korea, will be visiting the UK at the end of June.  SAN Korea is guiding the social accounting and audit process in Korea where interest in this area is increasing. We hope to be able to bring you further insight to his pioneering work in that country in a later edition of this newsletter.

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Guide to Social Enterprise Planning now available from SAN

A couple of years ago, the Community Business Scotland (CBS) Network through their trading arm (JUST the Business) developed and wrote a Guide to Social Enterprise Planning.  

Unfortunately CBS Network has recently been wound up, however the Social Audit Network is pleased to be able to offer the Guide for sale at £15.00 each, and is making a contribution to the Social Enterprise Collection (archive) at Glasgow Caledonian University. The Guide, which only exists in electronic copy, combines the essential elements of business planning with the need for systems to track and account for social change.  

For further details and to order your copy, contact Sandra -

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New policy publication from OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)

Policy Brief on social impact measurement for social enterprises (doc)

The OECD programme on local economic and employment development (LEED) has advised governments and communities since 1982 on how to respond to economic change and tackle complex problems in a fast-changing world. Its mission is to contribute to the creation of more and better quality jobs through more effective policy implementation, innovative practices, stronger capacities and integrated strategies at the local level.

This policy brief presents the fundamental issues and ongoing debates surrounding social impact measurement. It also provides concrete examples of measurement methods, underline challenges related to social enterprises and conclude with a number of issues relevant to policymaking. Social accounting features heavily in discussion and the conclusions include that ‘Policymakers should bear in mind this example of the relative inefficiency of mandating measurement if they want to support a true shift towards an effective social impact measurement culture. Given that mandatory disclosure does not seem overly effective and that social impact measurement is still an evolving field — similarly to social enterprises themselves — policymakers should not only support the use of proven existing metrics, but also provide incentives (at least in the short term) to experiment with voluntary bottom-up metrics.’

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Social Value UK Conference – CRITICAL MASS

Critical Mass is the conference for anyone interested in social value, investment and innovation, whether you're a corporate, social enterprise, charity or public sector organisation. This year's event is brought to you by Good Deals 2015 + Social Value International (formerly The SROI Network and SIAA) and taking place at the iconic Royal Institution in central London on 19th-20th October. Critical Mass will bring the best of SVI's global membership and Good Deals' position as the leading UK conference for social enterprise, social value, impact investment and corporate social innovation. 

Social Value UK has kindly offered a discount to all SAN members for this conference. If you are a SAN member and wish to attend, please contact the SAN office on for your discount code. This will give you 10% off your admission charge.

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Write your manifesto…

Julia Brosnan,  co-founder of the Dovetail Agency social enterprise and a speaker at the recent SAN Conference, has featured in an article about Manifestos for promotion and campaigning - I here’s a link to the piece in Third Sector Magazine which you may find thought provoking…

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Stop Press

Social Audit Network Prove Improve Account (PIA) workshop

There are a few places left for the Social Audit Network Prove Improve Account (PIA) workshop in Liverpool on 8th – 9th July 2015.

Please forward this information to someone who might benefit from this and call the SAN office for more information and booking on 0151 706 8121 or email

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Contacts and Coordinators

North East England

Julie Gowland

South East

Barbara Beaton

South Central England

Dave Furze

North West England

Liz Brooks Allen and Anne Lythgoe

West Midlands and East Midlands

Iftikar Karim (until June 2016) and Sean Smith

Yorkshire and Humber

Bernie Speight

South West England

Helen Vines

Northern Ireland

Peter MacCafferty