9 Creating Social Value And Supporting Public Services
9.1 This section provides an overview of responses in relation to the collaborative economy as a means to create social value and support public services. Relatively few respondents referred specifically to the creation of social value or supporting public services; findings presented over the following pages are based primarily on responses from a small number of business, business representative and public sector organisations.
Opportunities for the collaborative economy
9.2 Several respondents referred to potential for the collaborative economy to support broad societal benefits. This included a number of areas referenced under other themes such as reducing waste by exploiting under-used resources, reducing the environmental impact of transport, diversifying employment opportunities, and helping to connect remote rural communities with population hubs. However, respondents also referred to a range of specific opportunities where they saw the collaborative economy as having a role in providing social value:
- Providing transport for health and social care, non-emergency patient transport and community transport. Several respondents noted that various networks and projects are already in place to support asset sharing in relation to transport, and suggested that the collaborative economy provides an opportunity to build on this work. Respondents also referred to potential to improve access to employment and services in rural areas where public transport is limited.
- Enabling individuals and communities to play a stronger role in the design and development of public services, and in the provision of public services and management of assets. Respondents also referred to opportunities for the collaborative economy to support more cross-sector working in the provision of services. This included specific reference to provision of social care services, and to enable sharing of assets by third and social enterprise organisations.
- Enabling those on lower and middle incomes to use assets that they may not be in a position to purchase outright.
- Potential for greater collaborative working to build social capital across Scotland's communities. This was linked to suggestions that the collaborative economy could enable communities to play a stronger role in shaping public service provision and economic strategy.
Challenges for the collaborative economy
9.3 Several potential challenges were highlighted by respondents in relation to using the collaborative economy to create social value and/or support public services were:
- A business respondent referred to potential challenges for businesses which meet a social need, such as vehicle sharing schemes. It was noted that, where businesses are effectively filling gaps in public service provision, financial subsidy may be required to ensure that schemes are financially sustainable.
- A business respondent noted the challenge of ensuring that regulation of profit-making elements of the collaborative economy should not disadvantage the pure sharing economy which may be providing social value.
- A small number of public sector respondents referred to potential for collaborative platforms to support public services - such as enhancing or extending public transport provision, and improving connectivity of rural or disadvantaged communities. However, these respondents also noted the potential for these collaborative services to compete directly with public transport, and suggested a need for regulation to ensure that this does not undermine or reduce investment in essential public services.
- Another organisation respondent noted a potential role for public procurement in encouraging collaborative economy models, and saw a challenge in adapting public procurement processes to support new business models.
- A business respondent highlighted potential issues for the collaborative economy's use of self-employment, and scope for collaborative businesses to deliver public services. This respondent suggested that the flexibility and autonomy of self-employment may not be appropriate for the delivery of essential services.
Protection of contributors
9.4 Only one respondent made specific reference to protection of contributors and creation of social value and supporting public services. This was a public sector respondent highlighting a need for new procurement models to enable public sector organisations to procure services from the collaborative economy.
Balancing regulation with competition and innovation
9.5 A small number of respondents made specific reference to balancing regulation and the creation of social value and supporting public services. The key points raised by these respondents included:
- A business respondent referred to the potential for the collaborative economy to generate broad benefits for communities, such as reducing the environmental impact of transport, and providing a more effective alternative to public transport.
- A business respondent saw an opportunity to engage more citizens, as a means of dispersing power but also to help develop fairer practices across the collaborative economy.
- A small number of respondents highlighted potential barriers to use of the collaborative economy to support public services. These included a potential to adapt public procurement processes to enable use of collaborative learning and training, and to recognise the potential value of spreading public spending across a larger number of small providers. Another organisation respondent also suggested a need to introduce a fair wages resolution to public procurement, particularly in relation to the potential for procurement through the collaborative economy.
Barriers to growth of the collaborative economy
9.6 A small number of respondents directly addressed issues around social value in relation to barriers to growth - including business, public sector and individual respondents. Some of these respondents questioned whether the collaborative economy had achieved the desired balance between genuine collaboration which has potential to deliver social value, and effectively replicating traditional commercial transactions. An individual respondent also saw potential for the collaborative economy to do more to address the urban-rural divide in connectivity and access to opportunities.
The role of government
9.7 Several respondents commented on the role of government in relation to social value and public services. The key points raised by these respondents were:
- Information sharing was highlighted as a vital element for innovation and the creation of greater social value through the collaborative economy. It was suggested that government should ensure that data sharing takes place to support research and innovation.
- Several respondents referred to the need for change to enable public sector services to engage with and use the collaborative economy, and saw a role for government in encouraging and supporting this. This included reference to the potential role of public procurement in supporting new business models, and a need to update procurement guidance to enable this. Respondents also referred to existing barriers to public bodies engaging with collaborative finance, or enabling greater community input to use of and management of public assets.
- A public sector respondent made a specific suggestion that longer term budget settlements for the public sector (for example of three years or more) could enable public services to make greater use of collaborative approaches in purchasing and asset management.
- A business respondent recommended that the government should help to nurture collaborative platforms with a specific commitment to social value, for example through the creation of a fund to provide long-term investment.
Email: Corey Reily, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House