Helping social enterprises make the most out of new directives on local government procurement was the aim of one of the biggest social enterprises event ever held outside London.
The Social Enterprise West Midlands (SEWM) event, held at Brindleyplace in Birmingham, urged more than 280 delegates to explore the opportunities the Social Value Act presents to them.
The Social Value Act – or the Public Services (Social Value) Act – to give its full name – made it law for public bodies to consider how the services they buy in can improve the social and environmental wellbeing of local areas, as well as achieve value for money.
The Act came into force in January and already local authorities from across the West Midlands have lead the way by appointing a Social Value Champion under the guidance and encouragement of Social Enterprise West Midlands.
These are individuals who are actively seeking to embed social value within their local authorities.
Keynote speaker, Nick Hurd MP and Minister for Civil Society, reiterated the Government’s commitment to the principles of the Social Value Act: “The Social Value Act has opened up a host of exciting and innovative social enterprise and investment opportunities.
“Every pound of taxpayers money spent has to work as hard as possible for our local communities.
“The West Midlands has a growing Social Enterprise sector, which is bringing this to life and helping to make this ground-breaking Act a success.”
Nick Hurd also announced that Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White, whose private members bill began the process of the Social Value Act becoming law, would be serving as a Social Value Ambassador representing public bodies at Whitehall.
Melanie Mills, Chief Executive of SEWM, was delighted with the turnout: “At a time when every penny must count and the importance of making enterprise beyond making people wealthy is important, social enterprise and social value offer a new way of doing business.”
“We passionately believe in this way of doing business and working together in partnership is essential to making the most of the Social Value Act.
“This is why we were delighted to introduce our Social Value Local Authority Champions.
“These champions are working within their local authorities to embed the social value culture into their local authorities and we look forward to showcasing success stories from the West Midlands in the near future.”
Full list of champions include:
- Ian Simpson (Staffordshire County Council)
- Jennie Venn (Coventry City Council)
- John Garrett (Sandwell Borough Council)
- Lawrence Brazier (Walsall Council)
- Liz Welton (Solihull Borough Council)
- Michael Howard (Worcestershire County Council)
- Nigel Denton (Shropshire County Council)
- Paul White (Warwickshire County Council)
- Steve Lovatt (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)
- Wayne Welsby (Herefordshire Council)
Also at the event, SEWM announced a pilot that would see 10 social enterprises hand-picked for financial support in a bid to proactively increase their scope and size.
Backed by Improvement & Efficiency West Midlands, Coventry, Solihull & Warwickshire Sub Regional Working, Office for Civil Society, Unity Trust Bank and Brindleyplace, the event also staged four 30-minute master classes to give practical advice and tips on procurement and commissioning.
Social Enterprise West Midlands, which has recently been acquired by the Aspire Group, is a business network of over 400 members with a shared vision of growing the social enterprise sector.
It provides information, resources and networking opportunities for anyone interested in starting, developing or working with social enterprises.
For further information, visit www.socialenterprisewm.org.uk or contact 0845 450 7515.