Is your business ‘levelling up’ its social value commitments?

Since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act back in Jan 2013, people who commission public services have been required to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits. 

Since then, the perceived importance of social value in procurement has grown exponentially, and it’s a topic which has hit headlines again recently, thanks to the government’s announcement of a pandemic-inspired Levelling Up Fund – promising a £4.8 billion investment in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK.

Social value in the public and private sectors

Social value is of particular relevance to public sector buyers and suppliers right now, thanks to new Public Sector Procurement Notices during 2020 and to recent calls from an influential House of Lords committee for the government to ensure the forthcoming Procurement Bill is ‘purpose-driven’. However, as public awareness grows, many private sector organisations are also starting to pay close attention.

Social value creation is something that customers and stakeholders increasingly expect the businesses they deal with to demonstrate, while investors are also increasingly likely to be following environmental and social governance (ESG) principles in their investment choices. So while the essence of social value is premised on putting people before profit, it’s also becoming a commercially astute approach for organisations of all types and sizes.

So, what is social value?

Social value is almost as difficult to define as it is to quantify, but it has the potential to change the way we operate our businesses and conduct our lives.  Social Value is defined as an activity that contributes ‘to the long-term wellbeing and resilience of individuals, communities and society in general.’

For contractors, that means making procurement decisions based on factors such as whether suppliers create jobs for those with barriers to employment, take action to support the mental health and wellbeing of their workforce or encourage the development of innovative technologies. There’s a strong focus on taking a regional rather than centralised approach to procurement, on using smaller businesses based within the area, on consulting and collaborating with local communities, and on eliminating inequality and modern slavery.

Why does your business need to prioritise it?

If your business is part of a supply chain, being able to measure and prove your social value credentials will become a growing concern in the years ahead, as our nation recovers from the coronavirus crisis and national and local leaders look to ‘build back better’. In the public sector, compliance will remain of paramount importance  – and procurement rules look set to become more detailed and demanding, with social value driving new policy.

Meanwhile, in the private sector the changing expectations of investors, stakeholders and customers will mean that social value and business resilience become inextricably linked. Taking social value seriously can improve brand perception, employee satisfaction and productivity and even boost long-term financial success. In fact, a five-year study by the World Economic Forum has identified a new breed of company: the altruistic corporation; and these companies are demonstrating clear economic growth.

Buyers have plenty of good reasons to prioritise social value creation and suppliers who neglect it may find themselves losing contracts to competitors who have the same capabilities but can prove that they take the economic, social and environmental effect of their activities into account.

How can Constructionline help?

Constructionline provides suppliers with a straightforward way to showcase their social value credentials to one of the largest networks of construction procurement professionals in the world. Tens of thousands of buyers rely on the Constructionline platform to identify suppliers and subcontractors that are the perfect fit for their projects.

For buyers, Constructionline offers the opportunity to easily gather more detailed insight into their suppliers’ policies and procedures, by providing social value-specific question sets that go beyond industry standard pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) and dive deeper into company practices. Our intuitive platform helps you keep track of compliance and quickly check whether suppliers match up against KPIs; for example, whether they pay living wage, how their supply chain meets the Equality Act 2010, whether they develop young workers through apprenticeships or whether they are working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a range of other things.

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