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Public sector ‘leading the way’ in Covid-19 recovery

The “public sector leads the way” in the UK’s recovery from Covid-19.

Those were the words of Social Value Portal Chief Executive, Guy Battle, as he opened the 2021 National Social Value Conference event on Monday (23 February).

Hosted virtually due to the pandemic, the event was based around the tagline ‘recover, rebuild, renew’ and outlined how organisations could support communities to recover and renew in a post-Covid world.

Mr Battle thanked public sector workers for all their hard work during the pandemic and stated that Covid has widened inequalities, but acknowledged that the government has “at long last” realised the case of social value.

In his remarks, he also said that the Covid-19 vaccine and staying at home has showed that “anything is possible” with collaboration and called for the recovery to be “fair and green”.

Also speaking at the conference was Minister for Civil Society and DCMS, Baroness Barran, who said: “I really want to be a champion for the voluntary and community sector”.

Acknowledging that the last year has exposed social inequalities across the country, she said that “social value will be an important part of building back fairer” and will be achieved through “extensive collaboration”.

In terms of public sector procurement, Baroness Barran said that the government has made procurement “simpler” since leaving the European Union and mentioned the government’s social value priorities in procuring £49bn of public sector contracts each year, which has been in effect since 1 January 2021.

Last year’s in-person conference hosted over 700 people and over 1,000 were expected to attend online this year.

The conference looked at ways to support communities through:

  • Commissioning and procuring of public and private sector solutions
  • Planning and advancing new real estate developments
  • Delivering large infrastructure projects
  • Acting as responsible and innovative businesses
  • Building trust, engaging and supporting communities
  • Investing and managing assets
  • Measuring and reporting

The ‘Community Wealth Building’ keynote took place on the first day and included Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, while Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett took part in a plenary panel discussion on social value and community wealth building.

With the first day focusing on the public sector, the second (24 February) focused on the private sector.

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