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Social Value in Action.
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Guy Battle

Unlocking the power of radical collaboration: What is 'place-based' Social Value?

Guy Battle discusses the key steps to delivering a place-based Social Value strategy while looking at the efforts of the Durham County Council.


It makes sense, does it not, to look after and support our own communities on the basis that if they flourish then we will all gain.

To me, this seems like an obvious statement of truth and a good thing as long as we do not inadvertently and negatively impact other places. Levelling up and looking after our own should not be seen as a zero-sum game that somehow plays one off against another. Rather, it’s about making sure that as the tide rises, we are all able to take advantage.

And so, if the vision is to build a fairer, healthier, sustainable and inclusive economy where wealth (money, knowledge, and opportunity) is fairly shared, then the challenge is to work out how to get there together.

This won’t be easy and we will need to unlock the power of radical collaboration, where we work across traditional boundaries (e.g. public to private) and within sectors (e.g. business to business), aligned around a shared vision. At the same time, all members of the community must be able to deliver against the vision in a way that is aligned to their own business needs and priorities.

Community ring

Radical Collaboration sees no barriers, just opportunities to share goals and deliver more good by working together.

It is easier said than done, but we have been working with Durham County Council to put our ideas into practice and making place-based Social Value a reality.

We identified four stages to delivering successful outcomes and a place-based approach. Each step is supported by a series of actions that need to be taken if we are to reach our overall goal.

Place-based Social Value


The County Durham Pound

So, what have we achieved?

Since the programme began, we have made significant forward steps, including:

  • 11 public sector organisations working together on a common cause
  • Articulation of a common vision
  • A public pledge to embed Social Value into decision making
  • A commitment to respond to community needs
  • A common set of Social Value TOM System™ Measures that all partners will use

The Partners in Durham spend approximately £995m a year supporting many thousands of employees. Through radical collaboration the County Durham Pound project has unlocked £300 million of Social Value.

This collaboration is creating:

  • More jobs for those furthest from the job market
  • More local spend and investment within the economy of Durham
  • More opportunities for VCSE to engage and deliver for both the public and private sector
  • More training opportunities for young people
  • More volunteering and support for community projects

If you want to learn more, watch our interview with Durham Country Council's Chief Procurement Officer Richard Carroll.

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About Social Value Portal

Since 2017 Social Value Portal has been at the forefront of the Social Value movement. As creators of the endorsed Social Value TOM SystemTM, hosts of the annual Social Value Conference and founding members of the independent National Social Value Taskforce – they set industry standards and lead the business agenda.

Their unique mix of consultancy, cloud platform and programmes offer organisations the complete solution to accurately measure, manage and report Social Value – and create lasting impact.

In 2022, SVP achieved B Corp status, scoring above average in all assessed. The company’s aim is to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of Social Value into day-to-day business activity across all sectors.

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