Adding social value to a project has almost become standard practice in today’s industry. But how many initiatives actually make a meaningful difference? Mathew Baxter, group CEO of echelon Consultancy, outlines how organisations can enhance their social value to deliver true change to residents and communities
Social value as a concept and requirement in public sector procurement and contracts has been around for a long time now.
Many of the organisations with whom echelon works have developed some impactful initiatives that are delivering genuinely beneficial outcomes for local residents and communities.
So here’s what you need to know…
1. The right match
Matching the offering with the ethos of the client and the local context makes the social value more authentic.
For example, Johnnie Johnson Housing Trust Ltd puts a big emphasis on providing employment for ex-service people, Waltham Forest targets young offenders as part of their social reparation and Basildon’s Basworx specifically recruits hard to reach youngsters and the long term unemployed and has had great success, making significant life changes for its residents.
2. Build it in from the start
Include it in part of the specification and perform a scoping exercise to identify other opportunities the supplier could offer that maximise the opportunity from the works or services being procured.
The simplest option is for the contractor to make a direct financial contribution, but to create real longevity and leave a legacy of lasting improvement then apprenticeships, life skills support and harnessing contractors’ capacity to improve the life of residents is the key to genuine social value.
3. Think long-term
Through many of the contracts we’ve helped to procure, contractors offer specific support to residents like mentoring, coaching, help with job applications and DIY workshops as well as supporting work experience opportunities. This can genuinely change lives in the long term.
4. Keep reviewing
However, as the pandemic has emphasised, things change over time, so to keep the social value fresh, review your social value plans each year.
Assess the contractor’s performance and also what’s worked and what hasn’t. Local circumstances might have changed, or social value priorities may have shifted. Then re-set goals for the year ahead.
5. Don’t just tick the box
Even well-meaning initiatives fail to deliver positive outcomes if they haven’t been developed in a way that is proportionate to, or fitting for, the service being delivered. Tailor it as directly as you can.
Image: Jacob Lund / Shutterstock
The echelon Group is a Housing Digital Stakeholder, and a UK-wide procurement consultancy. Its core services are built around an ethos of adapting and flexing to meet client’s individual requirements.
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