Posted on the 14th October 2020

It is important to understand our history in order to glean a sense of our future.

ASVB History

The ASVB’s history stems from the leadership shown by the UK housing sector, who, as social purpose organisations, wanted a robust way to measure the social value of their work. This desire was partly in response to the introduction of the Publice Services (Social Value) Act in 2012 which required government to consider the social value that could be leveraged through their procurement activity.

Several housing providers came together with HACT and Simetrica-Jacobs to pioneer a new way to measure social value, launching the UK Social Value Bank in 2014.

Shortly after, four CEO’s from a regional NSW Housing Alliance went on a UK Study Tour and learnt of this new impact measurement tool that could tell you the social value your community programs were delivering.

Knowing that their state government was developing an outcomes framework, an increasing awareness of impact investing and the development of Social Impact Bonds, the Housing Alliance could see the benefits such a tool would have in the local Australian context.

They self-funded a scoping study to see if Australian data sets could be used to develop an Australian version of the tool, and the rest, as they say, is history.

UK Social Value Roadmap

The reason I reflect on the history of the development of the ASVB is because in January 2020, HACT and Simetrica-Jacobs convened the UK Social Value in Housing Taskforce, consisting of representatives from 22 organisations, including social housing organisations, national membership bodies, developers and contractors, and the Regulator of Social Housing.

The Taskforce agreed that the sector needed to work collaboratively to standardise their approaches so that social information was better understood and respected, was available to measure performance, and could be used to support and enhance their regulatory returns.

The Taskforce asked HACT to develop a roadmap for the future of social value in social housing, (which you can download here). HACT state “Our roadmap will enable the social housing sector to use social value information to improve services, enhance decision-making and increase the impact we make.”

The roadmap sets out the following three stages:

Stage 1: Expanding the UK Social Value Bank

Stage 2: Developing tools to use the UK Social Value Bank

Stage 3: Applying the UK Social Value Bank to the business of social housing

ASVB Future Development

All of HACT’s proposed development activities seem logical, and are indeed ones that I would want for the future development of the Australian Social Value Bank. However as I consider our own road ahead, I wonder what drivers exist in our local context that will move the next stage of our development forward?

Without similar policy levers or government requirements, the value proposition just isn’t there for the Australian Community Housing sector to invest further. The obvious stakeholder who would want to ensure good social returns on investment is government themselves, but they appear to be currently missing in action.

In Australia, it seems the ones who are stepping up to face the many societal challenges that have been made more dire as a result of the pandemic, are the private sector. They understand that changes need to happen now and have taken on some of the responsibility to drive these changes. The cynic could argue that this is driven by the market and the influence of their stakeholders, but wherever the pressure is coming from at least there is action.

With this in mind, I can perhaps see the next are of development for the ASVB focusing on environmental outcomes as corporations strive to achieve net zero.

I guess only time will tell?


Visit HACT's Social Value Roadmap

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