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Planning, Measuring and Delivering Social Value for the Public Sector

Since the introduction of the Social Value in Procurement Model in 2021, social value has become a mandatory and scored requirement within public sector procurement processes.

The necessity to plan, measure and deliver social value as part of project delivery has positively impacted the collaboration between construction companies and public sector buyers to add value to local communities, ensure socio-economic advantages and construct the built environment with a social conscious for the long-term benefits of future generations.

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has published new guidance for delivering social value in built environment projects as part of their framework for defining social value. We explore this guidance to understand how social value can be achieved in public sector projects and how the challenges and opportunities for success can be identified:

Agreeing a Social Value Purpose

At the start of the procurement process, consideration should be given to the social value purpose – a holistic overview of why it is important for the project to consider social value activities. Within public sector construction the social value activities can offer an opportunity to unite construction companies with communities through a shared sense of purpose. This could be through addressing economic inequality, advocating equal opportunities, improving health and wellbeing, promoting inclusive communities, combating climate change, reducing waste, creating employment opportunities, or supporting the COVID-19 recovery.

Identifying Priority Stakeholders and Understanding their Needs

Project teams include those involved in the planning, design, construction, and operation of the building. Social value enables building owners, property managers and occupiers to understand and make improvements to the design, build, and management of their buildings to reduce environmental impact and promote social value activities. In turn, this enables investors to observe these benefits when making investment decisions. By considering the social value purpose, priority stakeholders are identified, and activities are focussed on maximising social value benefits for these important groups of society or local community initiatives that need the most support. By identifying key stakeholders and their needs, clients can make recommendations to contractors on key social value themes, ensuring the project is delivering a specific, localised value to its community. Opportunities are diverse and can include local employment, upskilling, increased spend through local supply chains, community spaces or use of facilities and resources within a building.

With such a broad range of opportunities available through social value delivery, it is paramount that stakeholder engagement takes place to fully understand and assess their needs and focus on the activities that will add the most value. This positive collaboration between local communities, clients, construction companies, and helps to strengthen community relationships.

Establishing a Social Value Plan

The UKGBC defines social value within the construction sector as, “when buildings, places and infrastructure support environmental, economic and social wellbeing, and in doing so improve the quality of life of people. Exactly which environmental, economic, and social outcomes create social value will depend on the best interests of the people most impacted by the project or built asset. Those outcomes must be defined for each built environment project.”

A social value plan takes into consideration the specific environmental and socio-economic outcomes that will offer the most benefit to the lives of people in the local community. It acts as a tool to shape, inform, and review the delivery progress of a project’s social value activities. When developing and implementing a social value plan, it is important to consider:

  • The social value objectives – and communicate them to all project stakeholders.
  • Agree social value outcomes and priorities – these should be informed through local community engagement.
  • Consider short, medium, and long-term objectives – including facilities management of the building and longer-term benefits to communities.
  • Develop a framework for measuring social value (both quantitative and qualitative data) and review throughout the project lifecycle – this will help keep objectives on track, maximise collaboration and ensure successful delivery outcomes.

Ensuring Long-Term Social Value

Social value is not a quick fix solution to a temporary problem. It must be embedded at the core of a community to ensure that the benefits realised through project delivery continue as a legacy to society and continuously improve the lives of people within the local communities long after the project is complete. There is no simplistic key performance indicator that can calculate social value success, but by identifying a specific need, creating a partnership with key stakeholders and project teams, and evaluating positive changes, these principles can help to measure the long-term benefits in the wellbeing of our communities through social value activities.

Social value can deliver the following long-term benefits:

  • Employment – creating employment opportunities, upskilling through training, or running apprenticeship schemes. This reduces unemployment rates, reduces economic inactivity, and promotes social mobility.
  • Healthier Communities – specific social value activities can support diversity and inclusion, mental health, education, charities offering support with food banks, sports activities or community groups and create safer environments. This brings communities together and improves wellbeing, reduces crime and deprivation, and reduces the strain on blue light services.
  • Sustainable Futures – social value is a driving force in community regeneration, greener processes to reduce environmental impact and promote Net Zero targets and sharpening the focus on activities to improve our quality of life. By placing social value objectives at the heart of public sector projects we are building a sustainable future for generations to come.

How Compliance Chain Supports You

The Compliance Chain team are passionate about social value, and we help our partners to deliver on their corporate social responsibility by investing back into local communities. We support you to develop bespoke social value plans and continuously track progress throughout the project lifecycle. Our simple to use dashboard helps you to capture evidence of events, activate and track social value add against national measures and attributes a monetary value to social value activities undertaken across your project, demonstrating the financial benefit realised by the local community.

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