The Raven's Blog

18.09.17

How do we deliver true social and economic value for the community?

Five years on from the introduction of the Social Value Act, Alison Ramsey, frameworks co-ordinator at Scape Procure, reflects on the key questions that prompted the legislation’s introduction.

The Social Value Act was an important landmark. It decisively addressed the need for major public projects led by all public bodies to maximise the value of public investment by delivering wider benefit – social value – for the community. It has meant public investment in new buildings and infrastructure has created new community facilities as well as jobs, training and local spend.

Whilst it is true to say that in the five years since the Social Value Act was introduced, significant improvements have been made in driving measurable community-focused activities within procurement, it is important to reflect upon the key questions that first prompted the Act’s introduction. Perhaps the most important is ‘how do we maximise the social value being delivered through public projects?’

The answer to this can only be found in robust and easily comparable metrics and data. Only then can we begin to understand other key questions: is all ‘social value’ of equal value? How can public bodies – already stretched on resources – remain in control and ensure they are able to identify that they are getting the right results to suit their needs at a local level, when there is already so much to consider on major public projects? What does ‘good’ look like? Most importantly, how do we know that we are delivering the activities that communities really need?

When all potential aspects of social value are considered, contracting authorities can be presented with an extensive array of metrics that can be difficult and time-consuming to analyse and compare. Social value analysis can quickly become a complicated minefield for the public sector, who simply want to ensure they are getting the best possible local community outcomes from their investment.

Contractors naturally want to keep their clients happy, but public sector organisations must have clear and unambiguous objectives and metrics to ensure they are delivering both the maximum social value and the right kind of benefits for their community. Social value cannot simply be an afterthought to a contract; achieving these superior outcomes requires a more sophisticated approach to the assessment of social value impact. 

Earlier this year Scape Group, published our Better Procurement report, a response to the government’s consultation on its proposed Industrial Strategy. We called for the government to provide clearer national guidelines for public sector organisations on social value delivery. We believe this would help to provide clarity and guidance for the public sector as a whole. However, social value is, ultimately, an empowering tool for local authorities, and so it is right that they too are defining what ‘good’ social value looks like when commissioning and delivering major public projects.

In partnership with the Social Value Portal (SVP), we have been working with the public sector across the UK to devise a clear structure of social value deliverables that councils in particular will be able to recognise, measure and prioritise. In addition to using Key Performance Indicators to measure outcomes, such as local spend and labour, SME and Micro Business Engagement, Scape, together with SVP has developed a series of Themes, Outcomes and Measures (known as TOMs), which will be included in all of Scape’s future frameworks and will form part of the quality evaluation. Used for measuring, reporting and valuing social value outcomes, our TOMs will provide greater clarity for all parties on built environment contracts, but will also offer flexibility while maximising quality and local impact in the delivery of social value through public procurement.

It is our view that we need to keep it simple. The key principles for measuring social value should be:

  • Jobs and the promotion of local skills and employment
  • Growth and supporting regional businesses
  • Healthier, safer and more resilient communities
  • Environmental protection and improvement
  • Innovation

By adhering to these core principles, our TOMs methodology will reduce the number of measures for social value, creating a much simpler structure of relevant measures to value outcomes.

Measures and their impact will vary according to time and place. The TOMs methodology enables procuring organisations to focus on where they can add most value and pick key measures to suit. 

At Scape, John Simons, our national head of procurement and audit, has set out explicitly how we will embrace TOMs in our own frameworks: “TOMs is not just a tick box exercise, it is a fundamental and strategic way of embedding social value into procurement policy, ensuring social value is evidenced throughout the supply chain. It is key to achieving truly responsible procurement and to maximising the value of investment and public sector spend.

“At Scape we pride ourselves on being an organisation that is ever conscious of communities’ needs, and so through TOMs we are ensuring that social value will be deeply embedded into our frameworks more than ever before and are intended to complement our existing measures. In addition, the public sector organisations that use Scape’s frameworks will increasingly be able to access the metrics that can better inform on performance and shape decision-making.”

Scape’s commitment on social value delivery is clear: we will continue to collaborate with organisations across the public sector to shape and implement social value. Together we can ensure that social value is not just at the forefront of procurement policy, but that we are delivering what communities really need.

On 14 November, the National Social Value Conference in Birmingham, of which PSE is the official media partner, will bring together commissioners, social and community enterprises, corporates and measurement experts to highlight achievements so far and to agree on future action. To find out more about the event, click here.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

Ruth Jones   19/09/2017 at 10:01

The key to including valuable social value targets within our public procurement projects is sufficient time to identify exactly what value we are wanting to achieve. In a decentralised environment, where social value is being driven at corporate level, this can sometimes be challenging. Better appreciation of the time required to structure useful social value targets is required.

Elizabeth Mcglone   04/10/2017 at 17:19

Great article. Thank you for posting it because it gave me the answers I was looking for - after scouring the Net for who knows how many hours. I'll definitely come back; got you bookmarked. Thanks again! OneDayTop has recently posted for HEALTH : http://onedaytop.com/turmeric-beneficial-skin/

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Wiltshire Council withdraws £20m plans to close special schools and reopens consultation

26/03/2019Wiltshire Council withdraws £20m plans to close special schools and reopens consultation

Wiltshire Council has announced it is extending its consultation on controversial plans to restructure its special education services and has wit... more >
South Yorkshire leaders make breakthrough in £30m devolution deal

26/03/2019South Yorkshire leaders make breakthrough in £30m devolution deal

The four South Yorkshire council leaders and mayor Dan Jarvis have announced a “breakthrough” in the stalled devolution deal for Shef... more >
Council leader reinstated after online Tommy Robinson comments amid Tory Islamophobia row

26/03/2019Council leader reinstated after online Tommy Robinson comments amid Tory Islamophobia row

The Conservative council leader who was suspended for sharing a message supporting far-right activist Tommy Robinson has now been re-instated by ... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

The importance of openness after Grenfell

The importance of openness after Grenfell

Following the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy, Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, argues that if the public are going to have faith in the safety testing process then everything must be out in the o... more > more last word articles >

the raven's daily blog

Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

18/03/2019Councils Can: LGA launches Spending Review campaign

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, outlines his organisation’s campaign to make sure local government tops to government’s list for this year’s Spending Review. Our #CouncilsCan campaign to influence this year’s Spending Review is well underway and gathering momentum. The money local governm... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

11/03/2019Camberley inspired: investment and regeneration

The decline of the Great British high street has been one of the greatest concerns for local councils in recent years, leading to some innovative... more >
Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

11/03/2019Swindon's solar-powered recycling centre saves council cash

Steve Cains, head of power solutions at Public Power Solutions, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Swindon Borough Council, describes the benefits of... more >
National Infrastructure Commission: Progressing the North

11/03/2019National Infrastructure Commission: Progressing the North

The National Infrastructure Commission’s (NIC) National Infrastructure Assessment was released in July 2018, making a variety of recommenda... more >
SARS II: Recovery made easy

11/03/2019SARS II: Recovery made easy

Paul Bentley, of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), introduces us to the Spend Analysis Recovery Framework: a no win no fee means of carrying ou... more >

interviews

Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News