Next month, the fifth annual social value conference will be held in Leeds, hosted by HACT and the Northern Housing Consortium. Against a backdrop of continuing political uncertainty and economic austerity, the conference is an opportunity to hear about the latest developments in social value.
Back in June, I wrote about how we were working with Westminster City Council as they looked to redevelop the Ebury Bridge estate in Pimlico. The estate is in a priority neighbourhood, consisting of 336 households, so any redevelopment plan had to take into account its potential impact on the wellbeing of residents.
Using modelling tools based on the UK Social Value Bank, we wrote a wellbeing assessment for each of the eight proposed redevelopment scenarios. Since my last blog, the council have announced their preferred option, which was one of those we recommended.
Over the last six months, we have worked with, and heard about, an increasing number of organisations using social value impact assessments in their built environment initiatives. For example, Bristol and Bath Regional Capital CIC have been working with us and a local community-led housing group to develop an assessment of the social value impact of the scheme over the longer-term. This is an important piece of evidence to demonstrate to Bristol City Council the value of the scheme. If the project proposal is successful, it will signal an important sea-change in commissioners acknowledging the value of longer-term social value gains instead of shorter-term financial benefits.
Amongst housing associations, Clarion are at the forefront of this move towards incorporating social value indicators into regeneration decisions. Critically for Clarion, this has involved using social value measurements at an early stage in the decision-making process. Their Barne Barton estate regeneration is a case in point. They modelled a number of different scenarios for future investment in the estate and the wellbeing values for each played a part in helping them take the decision to fully regenerate the estate.
“It has been really important for us to be able to demonstrate the potential wellbeing a regeneration project such as this could create to help in our decision-making process," Alexandra Willey, Head of Regeneration Projects, Clarion Housing Group, said. “We are now working closely with the residents who live on the estate to ensure that we help create this social value in reality and that the project has a positive impact on their lives.”
As well as working with the University of Reading in modelling the benefits of this approach, Clarion is looking to incorporate social value calculations into other regeneration schemes in the future. “Using the Social Value Bank has helped us to ensure our residents’ welfare is a key part of our regeneration decisions,” Alexandra added.
Other examples of the use of social value and the built environment include monitoring the impact of adapting properties for people with disabilities, to measure how the adaptations impact on their mental health and inform how the way the providers work. This growing body of Information will help In decision making by understanding which adaptations make the most Impact.
In Leeds, a local housing provider is measuring and tracking changes in resident satisfaction with the appearance of their estate, so it can measure the impact of different service models on wellbeing. This enables them to focus in on areas of weakness, revise the relevant service and make a substantive difference to residents’ wellbeing.
The use of social value in decisions about the built environment is just one area that will be discussed at next month’s social value conference. We’ll also be hearing about social value in procurement decisions, how best to engage tenants in social value discussions, and the role of Board members in social value decisions.
Conference delegates will also be able to book an Ask the Expert session, to help them unravel any barriers they are having in using or applying the UK Social Value Bank to their work.
I look forward to seeing you there!