IN recent years, construction has had to deal with public sector tenders that include requirements for community benefits – from apprenticeships to expanded supply chains – otherwise known as social clauses.
In the last year, the public sector tried to bring community benefits within a more joined-up approach. This has involved examining how these additional benefits can be measured through the procurement process.
New legislation aimed at shifting the delivery of services into the social enterprise sector has since reinforced this, leading to social value emerging as a term that will be used more in this context.
Social value involves looking beyond the price of each individual contract to what the collective benefit to a community is when a contract is awarded. Social value asks “if £1 is spent on a contract, can that same £1 also be used to produce a wider benefit to the community?”.
What does it mean to bidders for public contracts? Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is compatible with what social value is seeking, but it still needs to mature into a social value policy that bidders can use to measure the community benefits they provide. You will probably already create social value, so you should think about working up a policy that helps you understand how you deliver these values; one that has priorities and criteria that helps you better understand public sector needs and how you might fulfil them.
Firstly, existing strategies need to be reviewed, secondly, you need to think about your own success measures and, thirdly, you need to use these findings to create a social value resource that is ready to use when bidding for work.
Each tender will still be assessed against strategy, financial management, cost, quality and risk management. The added social value you create is just one part of the assessment – be sure to make the most of it but not at the risk of other elements. You need to look at how the public sector is viewing its relationship with social enterprises, which is at the heart of what the government calls localism.
This might mean developing new policies alongside a review of your own framework arrangements and sub-contracting, maybe to make more use of the social enterprise sector.
Smaller contractors may wish to build ways of supporting social value as a means of improving their offer to main contractors. What is important is that buyers and sellers each understand what is being sought.
For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 374 0233 or email email@example.com.
Tom Tweddell, director at Social Clauses