What is Social Value
and Why does it Matter?

What is Social Value

Social Value is a broader understanding of value. It moves beyond using money as the main indicator of value, instead putting the emphasis on engaging people to understand the impact of decisions on their lives. The people’s perspective is critical.

Organisations will always create good and bad experiences, but on balance should aim to create a net positive impact in the present and for a sustainable future. They should measure their impacts and use this understanding to make better decisions for people

Measuring what is important to people, beyond profit

For some people, social value stems from their experiences at home or at work. It may be related to satisfaction from the time they spend with family or feeling refreshed after they take in deep breaths of fresh air during a stroll in the countryside. 

If you use a country lane each day to work, the lane has social value to you and others. Should an organisation then choose to build near it or on it, it would have an impact on you if you were not able to enjoy your walk to work or to get to work as easily, and if you were made to feel less safe or more stressed because of this.  

All of these aspects of our lives, things that we experience day to day, have an impact on our overall wellbeing.  Our wellbeing is impacted by things like our health, our relationships, what we do for work, where we live, our personal finances, our education and skills, our natural world, economic changes, how we govern our societies, and our own understanding of how we are. 

Social value measurement tries to understand and record the relative importance we place on the wellbeing changes we experience. It helps to inform better decision-making to increase positive change, and decrease the negative.

At Social Value UK, we provide support, training and assurance for developing approaches to measuring and understanding social value, so organisations can make better-informed decisions to improve wellbeing for all materially affected peoples. 

A business can understand the impact of its choices and a local authority can assess the pros and cons of a proposed idea or contract.  It becomes easier to assess different risks and opportunities.

It is important to avoid tick boxing when it comes to social value. For true social value, we must involve people, from customers/services users, employees, to the wider community who are affected. We must listen to them, believe them, and be accountable for responding to what we hear. 

Using rich data is the only way to truly reflect social value, because a tick box exercise can be easily manipulated.   

In short, social value measurement goes beyond financial or economic value and tries to capture social impact in the round.

Why does it Matter?

At Social Value UK, we believe that social value has a huge potential to help us change the way we understand the world around us, and make decisions about where to invest resources. By changing the way we account for value, we believe that we will end up with a world with better wellbeing and more equality for all.

You can join us on this journey by becoming a member.