Circular for May 2014

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Social Audit Network May 2014

'It was inspirational and eye opening'
'Better than expected'
'Good speakers on good topics'
'A lot more energising than I had anticipated!'
'Very well organised. Engaging speakers. Nice lunch. I enjoyed the drumming! Thanks'
'Great programme! Good networking!'


These are some of the responses to the Social Audit Network's conference; 'Making a Difference' on Friday 4th April at Newcastle University Business School. Attendees were provided with 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'.

In a lively programme, speakers included:

  • Prof John Wilson (Newcastle University Business School) – who talked about the values of the co-operative movement and provided some insight into what went wrong at the Co-operative Bank group... it appears that a balance of executive management and membership ideas, in a values driven organisation is a key to success, and social accounting is a tool which you could use to achieve this.
  • Prof Tony Chapman (Durham University) – picked up the thread of walking a tightrope between an altruistic mission and business sustainability. In a talk which included Shakespeare and the phrase 'worthy but dull' used to describe social enterprise, Tony explained that we can use social accounting and audit to 'keep a steady head'. In the turbulence associated with operating in the social economy.
  • Chi Onwurah MP – Chi explained the Labour party's position on the Social Value Act. Their support enabled the Act to pass into law and Labour MPs now want to build new models of co-production and enterprise, based in social values and ethics. She talked about pioneering work going on in the North east, aswell as links now being made with other areas to drive forward social enterprise and Social Value Cities.
  • Matthew Lanham (Neuro Muscular Centre) – Matthew charted his career from Regional Manager at the Post Office to Chief Executive of the Neuro-Muscular Centre in Cheshire, explaining the difference that doing social accounting has made to his charity. Matthew credited his success to John Pearce and Mike Swain, pioneers of social accounting and audit, to whom the lecture was dedicated.

All the presentations are now available to download from San Conference 2014 and future editions of this newsletter will include reports on some of the workshops and panel discussions.

ABOVE: Anne Lythgoe's reflections on the day – 'the bigger and bolder, the more that speakers and delegates thought that this is important...'


Other Social Value news

Download the new slide pack by NCVO, which draws on the social value strategies of Durham, Knowsley and Lambeth councils (no NHS examples, I am afraid!) and suggests some learning from these.

Phil Clegg from the University of Huddersfield is attending a conference/seminar in Omsk, Russia next week at the invitation of Omsk local authorities. The event is about social enterprise and they have a number of international attendees/speakers. He has elected to speak about the importance of assessing social impact and will be using a SAN Prove, Improve and Account Guide. He will be facilitating a workshop and plans to explain about SAN and much of what is in the Guide. If successful, SAN will work with Phil to support a project on impact/performance in Omsk.

Evaluating ‘social value’ is a challenge currently being considered by a partnership group in Salford, and Chris Dabbs, Chief executive of Unlimited Potential, explains that there are some interesting links which others may also wish to follow;

‘ There are interesting articles available relevant to our challenge:

For further information on how to apply for the 2014 cohort of the Social Enterprise UK ‘Social Value in Health and Care’ programme, please see

In the Pioneers Post, Jeremy Nicholls writes about the importance of audit in social impact reporting.

Understanding Social Value: A guide for local Compacts and the voluntary sector

Compact Voice has published a new guide, which provides an easy-to-understand overview of social value and the Public Services (Social Value) Act. Read more

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Inaugural FairShares Association Conference

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 from 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM at Sheffield University Business School, Arundel Gate, Sheffield, S1 1WB

The FairShares Model is a three-step methodology for social enterprise development supported by:

  • a set of brand principles;
  • four social auditing tools;
  • three advanced diagnostic / research tools;
  • model rules for associations, co-operatives and companies
  • a Wiki containing technical information about the model rules and diagnostics.

The first annual conference of the FairShares Association is open to anyone interested in becoming a supporter or member. It will include the launch of FairShares V2.0 - a new approach to developing co-operative and social enterprises underpinned by the FairShares Model.

This is your chance to become a pioneer, part of an exciting initiative on the frontline of social enterprise development. Join the debate and help to spread the FairShares Model across the globe.

Why not stay on for the Co-operative and Social Enterprise Summer School (2nd - 4th July) organised by Social Enterprise Europe, Sheffield Business School and the FairShares Association?

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Comment: It’s just not fair! Discrimination in social value

Many of us have been measuring and reporting on social value for a long time, because it is the right thing to do! But now we have the Public Services (Social Value) Act and we have to be able to tell people about our social value – just to qualify for the work that some of us have been doing for years…

Don’t get me wrong, the Social Value Act is great – finally, all the things which we value as organizations in the social and community sector must now be taken into consideration in procurement – in fact, before procurement starts. Commissioners of all public services must think about social value and start talking to us about it.

But in finding a way to talk to us and in writing questions to ask us in their tender documentation, the public sector may be starting to discriminate against some of us, or at least making it very hard for us to win the jobs. Smaller, locally based VCSE organisations may be missing out because of how the public sector applies Social Value Act de minimis levels, lacks understanding of our governance forms or is commissioning in complex 'lots' or contracts; and the tools that commissioners and procurement teams are looking for to evidence social value are just too complicated, expensive and time consuming for some small charities or local VCSE providers....

These provider organisations are often those that are bringing the most meaningful social value through local employment, improved skills and aspirations, volunteering opportunities and community resilience, for example; which are often the outcomes that the commissioners perceive as ‘social value’. We may be in danger of losing them whilst the public sector gets its own act together!

Does it have to be like this?

It’s good to talk. Many smaller organisations and co-operatives can and do measure social value, but perhaps not well enough or in a way that can be understood and evaluated by public sector commissioners and procurement teams. The Social Audit Network supports individuals and organisations interested in social accounting, maintaining a register of qualified social auditors able to guide people through the process and to verify social accounts if required, giving procurement colleagues the guarantee of robustness authenticity they are looking for in social value reporting.

But even if we do start to improve our reporting of social value, those asking the questions also need to talk to the market and get it right, before we end up with losing the very social value that the Act supports (..or we have what in my experience will scare the public sector more - legal claims for discrimination from certain parts of the market on the basis of size, governance and ability to tender).

Anne Lythgoe

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Introductory Social Value Workshop held on 19th March 2014

The Social Audit Network in the West Midlands (SAN WM), formerly known as West Midlands Social Accounting Cluster, has been working to promote the practice of social impact measurement in the West Midlands since 2003. Over the years we have held various events to introduce approaches to social impact measurement as well as looking at more in depth areas such as exploring how social economy organisations could understand their economic and environmental impacts.

SAN WM has developed a programme of free half day workshops which aim to help participants from social economy organisations to increase their understanding of:

  • The Social Value Act
  • The importance & purpose of measuring & reporting on social, environmental & economic value
  • Simple, practical ways to measure their social value
  • Some of the major frameworks and tools used to demonstrate social, environmental and economic value added including outcomes stars, social accounting & social return on investment
  • How to use and present the data collected

The first workshop was held on 19th March 2014, in Central Coventry. The Workshop was facilitated by Iftikar Karim (SAN Regional Coordinator) and Dave Lane of Development in Social Enterprise. The event was attended by 12 representatives of West Midlands social economy organisations with a substantial representation of local housing providers.
All the participants stated that the seminar was either as expected or partially as expected and all found the seminar useful or very useful. The comments provided were:

"Good to see practical information on measuring social value / impact"
"Thankfully not full of jargon, very difficult to explain a subject which means different things to the different people around the table."
"Very good taster session"

When asked what they liked about the event responses included:

• The opportunity to put theory into practice
• Sharing of stories and case studies. Delivery by the facilitators
• Impact mapping & exercises
• Simple explanation of the need for social value evaluation & how to start implementing it.
• The breakdowns & explanations / Useful websites
• Sharing of experiences with other participants
• Links and sources for methods and support
• Everything was explained well, put into context of our organisations.
• Discussion

Finally all of the workshop delegates agreed that they would be able to use what they had learnt from the event back in their organisations.

Iftikar Karim
On behalf of SAN WM

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Stop Press

SAN Conference 2014

Be sure to check out slide shows, videos and photos from this years conference.

SAN Conference 2014

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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