Social Profit Calculator are very proud to be named as one of the 31 strategic partners collaborating in support of the Transport Infrastructure Efficiency Strategy Living Lab project, “TIES Living Lab”. This programme was announced by Minister of State, Andrew Stephenson last year and is designed to drive innovation across major infrastructure projects in the UK. Other collaborators include Department for Transport, Network Rail, Construction Innovation Hub, construction innovators Kier, MMC specialists Akerlof, along with academic experts from the University of Dundee and Leeds.
TIES Living Lab is an alliance that aims to fuse the very best data and digitalisation techniques that UK infrastructure initiatives generate. This intelligence is critical in transforming the UK construction agenda and improving productivity.
Advanced logistic approaches aim to identify and tackle systematic issues that hinder innovation in construction. TIES Living Lab plans to provide the tools and systems the construction industry needs to improve cost efficiency of projects and help identify Modern Methods of Construction to reduce time delays, cost overruns, reduce projects’ carbon footprints and improve safety skills for construction workers.
A Transformative Collaboration
Over the next two years, the partnership will invest more than £16 million in new approaches, tools, data systems, operations and processes. It will bring together industry experts and business leaders with academic institutions to develop and establish best practice in the way we utilise innovation within transport infrastructure. Furthermore, creating potential applications beyond transport infrastructure, and into other projects.
Andrew Stephenson commented:
“As we begin our green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the need to level-up our country and boost economic prosperity has only increased, and we are determined that we don’t just rebuild, we rebuild smarter.The Living Lab is a great opportunity for industry and academics to work together to embrace new more productive, more efficient and more sustainable ways of delivering transport infrastructure.”
Our Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Coughlan thinks this is a move towards a greater understanding of the whole life value and is another welcome advancement for the industry.
“SPC has been working with the TIES Living Lab and the DfT since last year. We are working with a host of industry and academic partners to push forward the social value agenda in infrastructure.”
This strategic, scalable and sector wide approach intends to be a catalyst for real cultural change, shifting focus within infrastructure delivery decision-making from the costs of construction to a greater understanding of its whole life value.
Social value has long been considered a ‘nice to have’ when it comes to construction projects, but thanks to the introduction of the government’s Construction Playbook in December 2020, that is starting to change according to our industry expert. Chief operating officer here at Social Profit Calculator, Sarah Coughlan, says that the playbook has given public organisations across the board confidence to demand social value is embedded into their schemes – and that the private sector is also starting to take note.
There is no doubt that the construction industry has slowly been embracing social value and working hard to include it within the scope of a project, but it hasn’t necessarily been put at the heart of delivery. Instead, it was seen as something that ‘should’ be included but wasn’t essential – unless delivery was taking place via a framework where social value forms a key part of reporting.
Embracing a change in ethos
Since the introduction of the playbook, however, this is starting to change. The difference when it comes to publicly procured works really is like night and day. Social value is already of huge importance when it comes to framework appointments with providers such as Pagabo requiring it, but this approach hasn’t necessarily been replicated elsewhere.
However, we are now very much starting to see that shift from social value being something that must be ‘considered’ to that which must be ‘explicitly evaluated’ and built into a project from the outset – across the whole of the public sector, not just those schemes being procured by central government.
We are starting to see that the playbook has had a really positive impact on local authorities too. While it relates specifically to centrally procured public works, it has given many local authorities added confidence to demand that their suppliers deliver against the policies outlined by central government and put social value at the heart of delivery. This isn’t something we have seen before and it is an important shift.
It isn’t just the public sector that is making change either. The private sector is also becoming increasingly keen to ‘do good’ through development – there is a recognition that social value isn’t just something that those working in the public sector do, but also something the wider industry must take responsibility for, and provides an opportunity for the private sector too.
Understanding social value
In the past, social value has been somewhat of a mystery that often wasn’t fully understood, but again this is really starting to change now. Previously, a monetary figure would have been put against it for a project, but that simply didn’t cover the full breadth of what social value means and the impact it has on local communities in terms of things like job creation, environmental issues and the long-lasting legacy left behind. This is probably the biggest change that is taking place at the moment; there is a real move away from the need to monetise everything as we look towards a much more holistic view of what social value entails.
“Organisations procuring works can now much more easily consider what it is that is important to them and the communities in which they are active.”
Annex A of the playbook outlines five key themes for considering social value: COVID-19 recovery, tackling economic inequality, fighting climate change, equal opportunity and wellbeing, and make it very clear what ‘good’ looks like within those different areas which is a much-needed change that will undoubtedly help shape what social value looks like for a particular scheme.
In giving structure to social value calculation, much of the mystery that has previously enshrouded it has been removed. Organisations procuring works can now much more easily consider what it is that is important to them and the communities in which they are active and consider their priorities more effectively within the matrix outlined by the playbook – something which aligns well with the early engagement of local supply chain and its knowledge of local priorities.
We know that social value looks different to everyone and what benefits one community wouldn’t suit another, but there is now clarity that was lacking previously and that has already started to have a positive impact. In legislating at central government level, we are seeing a ‘trickle down’ effect to local authorities and into the private sector as the discussion about social value has been brought to the fore.
Legislation to require ‘doing good’
This drive towards really understanding what social value means for our communities and the requirement for ‘explicit evaluation’ of social value is a hugely important one – and it is very encouraging that we are seeing local authorities and other organisations taking on board the new guidance.
However, if this progress is something we want to see continued and replicated across the industry, it is vital that the legislation extends to cover all public sector procurement. While we have certainly seen many local authorities embracing it, only by legislating will we see changes adopted wholesale.
Measuring social impact
The progress that has been made since the release of the playbook has been significant and is paving the way towards a more responsible built environment sector which puts social value at the heart of delivery, but it is important that we continue to move forwards and see the industry embrace real social value and demonstrating its real impact.
This is what we’re always striving to do with our software, ensuring that we work to make improvements in line with the latest updates and trends so that we can provide the true measurement on social value. We’re also looking at this more closely with a future-forward vision through the development of our ‘Smart Construction Calculator’. This sees us working with companies from throughout the supply chain to gain historical data on Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) projects in order to create a benchmark moving forwards for new and upcoming projects.
The key is collaboration. If businesses are more forthcoming with existing information, and work as a collaborative collective to develop these benchmarks, we can get a true picture of what good and true social value means to every area of the country.
Our new team member, Angus Townsend, joins us in his new role as SPC’s Senior Consultant. Angus enjoys eating crisps, watching cricket and stumbling around after monkeys.
Let’s get to know him a little bit more…
How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?
They would be fairly confused by the concept of social value and probably just ask me to get them some more crisps. But they would be satisfied if I told them it was a good thing, and would then run back off into the woods to whack a tree with a stick.
What’s your favourite part of your workday?
It can be very satisfying to get stuck into a piece of work which requires some problem solving, even more so if done with someone else.
What motivates you to work hard?
The positive nature of SPC’s work really helps, as does the desire to give my best and try to maximise my positive impact. The harder you work the more you get out of things.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?
I can’t actually think of a single piece of advice that has cut through and been defining. Something I like people talking about and often see enacted is the desire to keep learning and developing no matter at what stage of their career they are at or how much they appear to have mastered something. Keep working on those off-cutters Jimmy.
Your top tip for wellbeing in lockdown?
Maybe surrounding yourself with plants, they really do seem to help with the workday mood. I have always hot desked in the office so haven’t been able to encase myself in them previously. It is also useful to start on that journey of keeping things alive, we are currently moving to step two and getting some fish and axolotls (with a chameleon on the horizon).
How do you address the work-life balance?
Definitely a challenge but I think it helps living with my partner and a couple of flatmates. They work pretty healthy hours so I can get pulled along into their schedule and you end up helping each other switch out of that workday mindset. It’s also not easy telling my partner I can’t watch the latest episode of Married at First Sight because I’m working late.
How would your friends describe you?
What show are you currently binge-watching?
I would like to highlight some of the hard-hitting dramas and documentaries we have been watching but really we get most pleasure from binging reality TV. Currently working our way through the aforementioned Married at First Sight (Australia), Below Deck and RuPaul’s Drag Race.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
We want to hire you? I just can’t beat you at Settlers of Catan?
What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
It is usually a split between the extremes of spending the day in bed watching tv and eating crisps or going off to explore somewhere we haven’t been before.
Thanks for taking the time Angus. Welcome to the team and good luck in your new role!
Our new team member, Mica Schultz, joins us this month in her new appointment as SPC’s Technical Customer Support Advisor.Mica enjoys going to restaurants, fashion, and binge-watching series in under 24 hours!
Let’s get to know her a little bit more…
How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do now?
I think 10-year-old me would firstly be confused as to why I’m not a professional gymnast, but then would be proud that I work for a company that plays an integral role in evidencing the positive impacts of projects that predominantly help others.
What’s your favourite part of your workday?
Daily stand up for sure, I love that everyone comes together in the morning and discusses what they have planned. It not only keeps me on track and sets me up for the day but its also interesting to know what my colleagues are getting up to, keeps everyone in the loop and identifies where others knowledge or skills could make someone’s task easier.
What motivates you to work hard?
Achieving goals and seeing results. I’ve always been a competitive person and that transpires into my work when meeting targets and doing my best. I enjoy seeing the outcomes of my efforts both in and out of work.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever heard?
To not be scared of going out of your comfort zone, I’m still learning to do this myself, but I’ve found doing something I wouldn’t usually often gives me new skills or helps me find something I enjoy which I wouldn’t necessarily have found without pushing myself to say yes.
Your top tip for wellbeing in lockdown?
Staying busy, I fill my time with pointless tasks just to make my days seem most productive, making my bed is sometimes my biggest achievement but who cares at least it’s something! I love to get out of the house and take advantage of my daily exercise, usually with a walk though – I use the word exercise lightly 😂
How do you address the work-life balance?
I am fairly good at separating work and my personal life. I take time on the weekends away from emails as its important to have a total break after a busy week to come back fresh and motivated when the new week starts. I sometimes keep myself available casually throughout the weeknights over email, as with a role like mine it’s important to stay accessible and I enjoy being there for those who need so it doesn’t seem like I’m working.
Which of your personality traits are you most proud of?
I’m very enthusiastic and energetic when I get my mind set on something and it’s something I enjoy I’m very ‘full-on’. My confidence has always been one of my favourite things about myself, I’m chatty, friendly and can be found with a smile on my face 99% of the time. I would like to think I was pretty funny but I know a lot of people who’d disagree. Despite my outgoing traits, I am also empathetic and proud to be a good listener.
Who would play you in the movie about your life?
What’s on your bucket list?
Orlando, Florida, done right, going to every single theme park in and around the city. I went when I was about 6 but can’t remember much and was probably too small to go on anything.
What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
A long walk ending with brunch with my family. Then spend some time chilling with my partner watching whatever series we’re currently obsessed with before we head out for tea. Then from tea going out to meet our friends for a drink and a good dance!
Thanks for taking the time Mica. Welcome to the team and good luck in your new role!
In September last year, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) published its latest Procurement Policy Note (PPN) requiring all Central Government Departments, Executive Agencies and Non-Departmental Public Bodies to take account of social value in the award of Central Government contracts.
A consistent standardised process
It follows recent consultation and introduces a new model to ensure a standardised framework for evaluating the potential social value of a contract. It recognises that the public sector can better maximise social value through its procurements, an approach that has already been pioneered by local authorities and other public sector bodies.
Following the PPN, the Government published it’s Social Value Model giving further detailed guidance on applying the specified criteria.
Supporting key social outcomes
In accordance with these new guidelines, Social Profit Calculator is currently revising our tool to allow users to report specifically against the policy’s menu of priorities. COVID-19 Recovery, Tackling Economic Inequality, Fighting Climate Change, Equal Opportunity, Wellbeing.
Our clients will be able to seamlessly include in the procurement, standard award criteria, delivery objectives that describe ‘what good looks like’, and metrics for contract management and reporting.
Helping you to implement this model in a clear systematic way so you can bid with ease and confidence.
Our enhanced software will be available very soon.
As a brand, we stand for more than just the products and services we offer. We understand our mission and our values impact your experiences and ultimately influence the decisions you make. Your people and our people matter, and we believe business ought to be conducted as such; that we must be the change that we seek in the world.
Big plans for 2021
SPC have an ambitious research and development roadmap outlined for the next 12 months, part of which is to embed a culture of relentless commitment to our client’s satisfaction. We are constantly looking for ways in which we can improve.
To help us continue in our mission, we are proud to introduce Mica Schultz as our new Technical Customer Support Advisor who is on hand to offer our clients a reassuring and consistent single point of contact.
As a company strongly devoted to developing close relationships with our clients, Mica’s appointment will strengthen and streamline communications, better establish expectations and due dates, and track updates with speed and efficiency. She is the first person we’ve had in at SPC who is wholly dedicated to your support and joins us at an exciting time as we grow.
We are convinced having this wraparound co-ordinated support is best practice for making complex processes more productive and in turn, freeing up valuable time to serve you better.
Mica commented ‘I’m super excited to get introduced to you all and find a solution for your SPC support needs. I’ll be on hand to make sure it’s solved as quickly and efficiently as possible. As your first port of call I’m dedicated to seeing you get the help you need by creating a coherent link between you, the client, and my colleagues throughout the lifecycle of your projects. Time is precious and I’m on board to make sure you’re getting the most out of yours!’
Mica will be in touch to talk to all our current clients to introduce herself and to establish a great relationship, as well as walk you through how SPC intend to implement new structural changes to our business, which have been planned in with the customer at the heart of it.
Of course, this has been a year unlike any other: a year where many have lost loved ones, jobs, and social connections: 2020 has been difficult. There are indications that 2021 might be better: the news of a safe and effective COVID vaccine as well as an economy that looks more robust than we had feared means that a return to normalcy looks like an achievable goal.
Despite it all, social value has had something of a bumper year. During the last twelve months, we have gained more and more serious proof that our industry is maturing. No longer is social value simply something to be “considered” – we are now operating in a world that makes assessing the social value of a procurement one of its central pillars. And, it isn’t just the government’s Procurement Policy Note that has the sector excited. The Construction Playbook’s release this month, coupled with the work at the Construction Innovation Hub on Procuring for Value mean that the signs point very firmly to social value taking centre stage.
PPN 06/20 – Roadmap to Recovery
This year’s Procurement Policy Note 06/20 – taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts is doubtlessly the biggest transformation this year for our sector. The document, which comes into effect on 1st January 2021, will formalise the requirement for central government bodies to award contracts by weighting 10% of a tender to social value. Though the document only makes this a requirement for central bodies, the evidence we are seeing makes it clear that local authorities are set to follow suit, as are private bodies. Aside from formalising the role of social value in the procurement process, PPN 06/20 also sets out a new reporting framework for social value. This framework focuses on delivering targeted social value against all procured contracts. The five pillars that make up the framework are: Covid-19 recovery, tackling economic inequality, fighting climate change, equal opportunity and wellbeing. After the year we have all had, these priorities come as no surprise. Although delivering these will be a challenge for bidders everywhere, the new framework should go a long way towards ensuring that next year’s projects focus on delivering the social value that will make the most impact.
Construction Innovation Hub – Procuring for Value
Taking up that question of delivering maximum impact, the work that the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH) have been undertaking for their Procuring for Value strategy echoes many of the themes reflected in PPN 06/20. The work at CIH is all about maximising value in the broadest sense. We at Social Profit Calculator have been proud to be part of the team that is working with Social Value UK to map out a detailed, sophisticated understanding of what social capital will look like in the coming years, and the groups working towards similar definitions and best practices for human, produced and natural capital. This is a move towards a greater understanding of the whole life value of procurements and is another welcome advancement for the industry. We expect the new four capitals model to quickly begin gaining traction in the new year.
The anticipated release of the Construction Playbook has been welcomed this month across the board. The Playbook focusses on many of the themes being driven by the Construction Innovation Hub, and perhaps particularly in their shared ambition to deliver value-driven procurement. Gone are the days where cost, quality and speed would be the only considerations for decision makers. What the Playbook, and Procuring for Value, both emphasise is that as we move into 2021 and beyond, “value” is more than a question of cost. The Playbook is clear:
“When considering ‘outlay’ the key factor is whole life cost, not lowest purchase price.”
Here again we see the emerging theme of whole life cost and whole life value. This means that understanding the basics: cost, quality and time, will need to go hand in hand with an understanding of social value, economic and environmental impacts and whole life operational costs. The Playbook insists that, moving forwards, we will see a consistent approach running through policy intent, project selection, approval, initiation and into procurement, evaluation criteria, contracts, delivery and operations. This, together with the increased focus on social value through PPN 06/20 means that understanding what we mean when we say “value” will be the all-important question in 2021.
The Year That Was
For a year that has left a nation grappling with the question of how substantial a scotch egg is and Googling the whereabouts of Barnard Castle, it has been a welcome relief for us at Social Profit Calculator to have been hard at work in a sector that has gone from strength to strength. We are looking forward to a truly valuable new year.
From 1st January 2021, the government is introducing a new public procurement model that takes greater account of the additional social value created by contractors who are bidding for work.
Businesses that are seeking to procure government work must set out how they intend to deliver on the government’s social value priorities.
Currently, social value is only required to be ‘considered’ in central government procurement. However, with the new measures coming into place at the start of the new year, social value should now be ‘explicitly evaluated’ where the requirements are related and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract.
The social value model on which departments will assess contracts includes:
Supporting Covid-19 recovery, including helping local communities manage and recover from the impact of Covid
Tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience
Fighting climate change and reducing waste
Driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality and promoting community integration.
Sarah Coughlan, Chief Operating Officer here at SPC says that this new policy is an ‘opportunity for local businesses and communities as well as governments to take seriously and do good in communities, especially locally.’
Social value is proving to be an ever-increasing part of corporate social responsibility within the procurement process. Eight years on, we see the evidence of the growing importance of social value, now accounting for around 20% of bid and tender evaluations.
The new model states that a ‘minimum weighting of 10% of the total score for social value should be applied in the procurement to ensure that it carries a heavy enough score to be a differentiating factor in bid evaluation’. All bidders will be tested, and bidders must demonstrate the full extent of the social value they will generate.
Whilst the new policy does not make it compulsory for local clients and businesses it does, however, emphasise the importance of social value-driven projects and calls for local clients to start getting serious about delivering real social value in partnership with communities to “build back better’.
Sarah Coughlan believes this is a big move forward in embedding social value in procurement on central government contracts. She commented, ‘we await the detailed guidance, but look forward to seeing central government move towards standard award criteria, delivery objectives that describe ‘what good looks like’, and metrics for contract management and reporting.
This new government model inspires people to adopt a renewed focus on ‘what good looks like’ in the policy note. The new model has a focus on COVID-19 recovery improving work conditions and helping those unemployed due to the pandemic which in turn increases social value generated.
Social value is often met with the suspicion that the numbers aren’t completely reliable as it is oftentimes unclear how the figures are calculated. This new policy, however, signals a real opportunity to develop better-defined data, therefore creating a clearer understanding of the social value delivered and its statistics. There are now also more widely accepted benchmarks endorsed with historical data, forging an opportunity to build more trust among clients and contractors alike. Something we have seen repeatedly from our clients is a sincere desire to “positively disturb” the way that pounds-and-pence figures are applied to the social value of a project.
Construction Leadership Council’s Procuring for Value Toolkit provides helpful insight on how government, clients and the industry can maximise impact with a change in approach to procurement. Procuring for Value is a key theme of the sector deal and attempts to provide guidance, information and contact details as a support to suppliers when considering their ‘offer’ and delivery of social value. These are some helpful anchor points as the industry adapts and adopts new ways of working, which are all important steps towards improvement.
Enhancing community resilience
The policy note also stresses that clients will be free to target their social value requirements to the communities they reflect. In order to make the most of this, clients and constructors alike will need to renew their focus on engaging with local communities to deeply understand their real, rather than perceived needs, which will allow them to recover from COVID-19 together.
Without this engagement, the risk is that social value is reduced to just a box-ticking exercise and not a factor that will actually help create a strong sense of social purpose with the potential to enhance community resilience.
Targeted social value programmes should become the new industry standard in order to grow social value and truly make an impact to unite and level up the country while keeping local communities and businesses firmly at the heart of the recovery. Along these lines, social value will become a vital priority on the back of which we will hopefully see the creation of a whole new social contract.
National framework provider Pagabo is celebrating hitting its latest social value milestone, marking £3bn in social value being enabled by works procured through its frameworks since 2017.
This marks another milestone in a hugely successful year for the firm, which saw the launch of its new Major Works and Professional Services frameworks go live in April, the appointment of several members of staff and the announcement of a transformational research collaboration with The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre to name but a few.
The figures have been enabled through Pagabo’s full suite of frameworks. As well as figures relating to the financial benefit to local economies, the measurement includes the creation of more than 2,750 jobs and the safeguarding of more than 11,000 jobs, as well as 900 work placements and more than 700 apprentice roles.
Simon Toplass, chief executive officerat Pagabo, said: “Driving positive social impact for individuals, communities and businesses up and down the country is one of our core business values at Pagabo, so hitting this landmark £3bn enabled figure is a really proud moment for us.
“Social value is firmly at the heart of everything we do, and we make a conscious effort to be as directly involved as possible in order to help our clients generate the best social return possible from their projects. And there is, of course, no doubt that social value is set to play a bigger part than ever in the future following COVID-19 – especially when it comes to job safeguarding, job creation and the development of employment opportunities in the immediate future.”
Simon said: “Most organisations will already be delivering some form of social value through their employment of staff, skills development programmes and through working with local supply chains. The important next step is knowing how to measure these things and how they equate to true benefit for local communities. This is something that SPC is perfectly placed to do, accurately calculating the financial value of the social, economic and environmental impact of your work.
“It’s highly likely that we are going to see a significant push over the coming years regarding industry standards of data collection for social value – especially when it comes to regional differences. Tools like SPC will continue to grow in importance – as will the need for cross-industry collaboration to build a picture of what good social value looks like around the country for clients.”
Pagabo is set to announce the successful applicants for its brand-new developer-led framework – worth £47bn – in December.