Post Covid-19 Social Value Manifesto

The Greater Manchester Social Value Network (GMSVN) believes that Social Value should be at the heart of building back a better, fairer and greener Greater Manchester. The purpose of this Manifesto is to identify the means through which this can become reality. The Manifesto is targeted at every organisation in Greater Manchester across the public, commercial and social sectors. 

The Covid-19 crisis has had a significant impact upon organisations across the public, business and voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors. It has led to challenges associated with public health, the economy and employment, provision of essential goods and services, and local government finances. It has also happened in an era of global climate emergency.

Many organisations have responded positively to those challenges. Amongst other unforeseen developments, we have seen changes in the behaviour of large corporations as they seek to become more socially responsible. We have seen greater levels of cooperation between organisations across sectors. We have seen increases in cycling and walking, with subsequent health and environmental benefits. And we have seen a growth in citizen activism and desire amongst communities to make a change to our places.

All of these things are what we would broadly define at the Greater Manchester Social Value Network (GMSVN) as being Social Value. As we move towards recovery, we believe that we should not return to the old ways, but that these aspects of Social Value should be harnessed further and accelerated. We believe that Social Value lies at the heart of recovery and reform locally, in a rebuilt Greater Manchester, and at Government level.

However, in order to enable Social Value to continue apace, we need change in how we govern, in how we legislate, and in how we behave. We need:

The public, commercial and social sectors to work together for the common good (Cooperation)

Historically, organisations across the public, commercial and vcse sectors have not worked that well together and the relationship where there has been one, has often been framed by competition. Partnership has often felt to have been forced with resource attached to it. A more resilient Greater Manchester economy will need to be framed by cooperation across sectors and people, and whereby all partners have an equal voice and role. Effectively, we need behaviour change with everybody working together for the common good.

Ways of bringing the public, commercial and social sectors together (Brokerage)

In order for the public, commercial, and social sectors to work together for the common good, we need ways of enabling it to happen – brokerage. All too often organisations within sectors have worked in silos, and sectors have not engaged with other sectors. Better brokerage is required that enables networks, funding, infrastructure and cross-sector working.   

To put Social Value at the heart of Commissioning and Procurement

Over the last ten years, Greater Manchester has been at the forefront nationally of practice around Social Value Procurement. However, there is recognition that despite this, policy and practice is not as mature as it should be. We need to progress Commissioning further and this means a duty that builds Social Value across the whole cycle of Commissioning and Procurement. It needs to become a key component of thinking and decision-making at national, city-regional and local levels; and a requirement as opposed to a consideration.

Economic Development to think socially

The classic approach to Economic Development in recent years has been focused upon physically regenerating our city centres and hoping that the benefits are spread to wider areas and communities. This approach is likely to be at the forefront of economic recovery planning and strategy making. In Greater Manchester, we however think that we need a different approach and one where Social Value sits at the centre of Industrial Strategy. We need enhanced Community Wealth Building.

Further Devolution

Greater Manchester has been the forerunner city region for devolved power and resource in recent years. However, the perspective is that not enough has been devolved to this city region as of yet. We need a deepening of Devolution in Greater Manchester over a broader set of thematic responsibilities, such as work and skills; with accompanying control over funding; and the ability to set Greater Manchester level regulations.

Positive environmental behaviour filtering through everything

Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, Greater Manchester was characterised by high levels of carbon emissions and associated poor air quality. Whilst some organisations had started to change behaviour, the crisis has evolved plans around public transport, and space for cycling and walking, amongst other things. Social Value in public procurement has tended to focus on economic benefits. The Covid-19 crisis has once again shown the critical importance of environmental factors. We need this momentum around positive environmental behaviour to continue and be a central part of the Social Value that organisations are seeking.

Better business

Over many years some businesses have been successful in attracting Government money, inward investment tax breaks, business support, and procurement contracts; despite having unenviable and undesirable business practices. We need to create an environment in Greater Manchester where these types of businesses are not welcomed. We need business to meet a certain set of conditions to undertake work in Greater Manchester, and particularly around employment practices, effectively a social license to operate for public good. We also need legislation which requires businesses to include community benefits and social purpose within their articles of association.

GMSVN was set up in 2015 to evolve the Social Value agenda in Greater Manchester. We had a vision that Social Value should be at the heart of everything that Greater Manchester does, whether that be the contents of the GM Strategy and the activities of the Mayor, the process of procurement, the behaviour of business, or the activities of people. We think that with the adoption of the above ‘needs’ that this vision will be achievable in a post Covid-19 world.


sharing news, events and information on social value in Greater Manchester

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