How Asset-Based Areas deliver social value

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Co-commissioners in asset-based areas explicitly seek to promote social value. What this means is that they (i.e. commissioners and people with lived experience)  look at people’s lives as a whole and don’t focus on individual outcomes. For example it is a known fact that being unemployed undermines mental health. Therefore by commissioning services and support that employ local people they are supporting mental wellbeing and ‘doubling the money’.

Make universal services work for all

Co-commissioners should redesign universal services so that they can be used by everyone not just the ’average citizen’. After all, whether state funded or commercially or independently provided, they are valued as being both essential to everyone’s daily life and as places where people bump into one another and socialise.

 Take Bradford library, ‘Changing Places’, they adapted their facilities, provided a classroom and a changing and feeding facility (the only one in the city centre). Disabled people now make extensive use of the library’s Learning Zone and café area where they can also socialise with other library users. The service also provides the support people need to be able to access the rest of the city centre.

If you don’t believe me look at the Social Value Act

The Asset Based Area approach to social value is supported by the Social Value Act that requires public authorities, throughout all of their commissioning activities, to have regard to ‘economic, social and environmental well-being’. The Marmot Report proposals for tackling the causes of ill health and promoting wellbeing provide a very firm evidence base. ( Adopted by the Lambeth and Southwark Early Action Commission, builds on Marmot recognising that the further upstream we look to prevent specific illnesses or social issues such as isolation the more the same common action is required to tackle the ‘causes of the causes’. Hence prevention is an essential part of achieving social value.

Make social value central to commissioning

Asset Based Areas make social value central to all of their commissioning processes. For example, Liverpool’s Fair City Framework makes embedding social value throughout the commissioning cycle, across the whole council, a priority from mayoral level down. If that’s too big a leap to start with, try identifying opportunities to transform the four stages of the commissioning cycle by answering the following questions:

How can we:

Enable people and communities to identify the joined up set of environmental, economic and social outcomes that are most important to them

Ensure that the way we tackle any one individual outcome has the maximum knock on effect on improving the whole lives of people and communities?

Develop our ability as a set of co-commissioners to influence service reshaping in the parts of the statutory and commercial sectors that we do not directly commission?

Monitor outcomes and assets by regularly checking and taking action to ensure that all services and supports deliver on joined up, whole life outcomes?

Use the Social Value act to break out the strait jacket of conventional commissioning to make best use of all assets by looking beyond sector boundaries and focusing on the whole lives of people and communities.

Links to all of the above innovations and more can be found in:

Alex Fox. (2017)   The Asset-Based Area. Online: Coalition for Collaborative Care, Shared Lives Plus, and Think Local, Act Personal. Available at:

Richard Field and Clive Miller. (2017) Asset-based commissioning: better outcomes, better value. Bournemouth: Bournemouth University. Available as a free download, in both its full (215 pp) and digested versions (11pp), from (opens new window)