Blog

Why is social value more essential than ever?

15/07/2020

As our economy begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, embedding social value into our infrastructure projects is more important than ever before. But what is social value and why is it so important?

Social value brings benefits to the local community, in addition to the benefits gained by the infrastructure project itself. So, a project that creates jobs for local people, employs SMEs and social enterprises, improves social inclusion and increases the wellbeing of people, adds social value.

What is social value?

Social Value serves as an umbrella term for an individual or an organisation's economic, social and environmental effects of their actions.

Organisations which make a conscious effort to ensure that these effects are positive can be seen as adding social value by contributing to the long-term wellbeing and resilience of individuals, communities and society in general.

The UK Government has announced extra funding for a programme of construction projects, including schools, housing, hospitals and highways, to kickstart this recovery and enable the country to “build back better”. Embedding social value into these projects will amplify the positive impact they have on both the economy and local communities.

An optional extra?

Across the construction industry, social value can sometimes be perceived as an add-on or an optional extra. A culture change is needed, to alter this perception and move towards embedding social value and community benefits as part of the procurement, delivery and legacy of a project, recognising the long term benefits of social value through the whole life cycle of a project.

How can we embed social value?

As a public sector organisation, we believe we have a responsibility to take a leadership role in the development of social value outcomes. Developing new ways to better engage with, involve and inspire local communities is always at the forefront of our minds. It is integral to both the design of our frameworks and the way in which our delivery partners approach each project.

We include social value from the start of a procurement strategy, all the way through to operational and practical delivery of the programme or project. Embedded as part of the process, for us this is not an additional task.

Working with Balfour Beatty

One example of how we embed social value is the collaborative relationship we have forged with Balfour Beatty through our Civil Engineering frameworks. The commitment to including social impact is driven right at the start of the framework procurement process and is then delivered and monitored via our framework and performance management teams.

We are proud to be a founding member of the National Social Value Taskforce and have fully adopted the National TOMs (Themes, Outcomes, Measures) in partnership with the Social Value Portal.

Through early contractor involvement (ECI) that is enabled through our frameworks, Balfour Beatty’s local teams can come together with you and your local stakeholders to jointly discuss and plan social value targets; and define a road map to achieving them.

The ECI process provides valuable time and insight for the delivery teams to understand the local economic, environmental and social needs which can then be built into the programme.

Learn from the latest industry report

Our work with Balfour Beatty features in a recent report from Useful Projects and the Institution of Civil Engineers. “Maximising social value from Infrastructure projects” highlights a number of gaps between policy and practice and identifies how they can be closed. It also features specific recommendations for those with responsibility for the funding, design, delivery and operation of infrastructure projects.

Maximising social value from infrastructure projects

If you’d like to speak to us about how our approach to social value could be integrated into your projects, please get in touch.

Our team are on hand to support you.

Written by:

Alison Ramsey

Social Value and Performance Manager
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