This paper brings together views from Nesta on better ways of mapping and measuring public value.
It builds on work Nesta has done in many fields - from health and culture to public services - to find more rounded and realistic ways of capturing the many dimensions of value created by public action. It is relevant to our work influencing governments and charities as well as to our own work as a funder, since our status as a charity commits us to creating public benefit.
Our aim in this work is to make value more transparent and more open to interrogation, whether that concerns libraries, bicycle lanes, museums, primary health services or training programmes for the unemployed. We recognise that value may come from government action; it can also be created by others, in civil society and business. And we recognise that value can often be complex, whether in terms of who benefits, or how it relates to values, as well as more technical issues such as what discount rates to apply.
But unless value is attended to explicitly, we risk ending up with unhappy results.