In construction, our common routes to delivering Social Value include providing jobs for local supply chains and apprentices; building in an environmentally conscious way; creating education opportunities for young people; or investing in local companies and Social Enterprises to build economic resilience and inclusive employment.
Although the construction industry has paid more attention to Social Value in recent years and rightfully so there are concerns that it is still not given the attention it deserves.
While many contractors are used to highlighting their commitment to communities as a requirement for bids on public projects, there is currently no legal requirement to demonstrate this on private builds so emphasis varies considerably depending on investor or client appetite.
Collaboration between client, local community partners and contractors is imperative to identifying local impact priorities,. Otherwise, it can be difficult to ensure that social value impact is delivered where it matters most. For example, a council may want to prioritise more employment opportunities for locals, but without steer from them as a client, or engagement with local organisations, the contractor may focus efforts on other areas.
Failure to identify priority areas may lead to missed opportunities to achieve greatest impact. However there can also be no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and social investment plans must be as diverse as the communities they serve, bespoke to each project and devised to best suit local needs.
Some organisations are working to create social value benchmarks in the construction industry. For example, public procurement frameworks like SCAPE have demanded that their delivery partners prioritise community engagement, ensuring that the specific needs of local authorities are considered from the planning stages of a scheme.
Social Value Portal also work with both public and private businesses to help them prioritise communities. In 2017, they released the National Themes Outcomes and Measures (TOMs) Framework, to help companies embed SV into their processes and strategies, as well as measure the results.
Proud to deliver
As Group Community Investment Manager, I am responsible for spearheading our commitment to deliver social value, including application of the National TOMs framework, and it is a role I am incredibly proud to fulfil.
My team and I are deeply committed to ensuring every project we build delivers for our communities, and this is an ethos which is championed throughout Wates from top to bottom. And despite the challenges of the past 12 months, this principle has never once wavered we have just sought new ways of meeting needs through hard work and innovation.
This is why I am so thrilled that at Social Value Portal’s National Social Value Awards, which annually highlight best practice from around the UK, and showcase how sectors and businesses embed social value within their operations. Wates has been awarded its Private Sector Leadership accolade, in response to our hard work and commitment to building projects which will benefit communities for years to come.FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR AWARDS
In recognising Wates for Private Sector Leadership, the judges have acknowledged our Group wide commitment to put social value at the heart of every project and our resilience in ensuring that young people and those furthest form the workforce have continued to receive our support throughout the pandemic. Faced with changing requirements, seven weeks of virtual work experience were developed and delivered to young people. While a virtual employability skills and construction sector insight day aimed at job seekers attracted over 500 people, including ex-offenders, care leavers, veterans and unemployed adults.
Our recent project at the Gibside SEN school, delivered for Gateshead Council and procured through SCAPE, was presented as a case study. Here, 52 per cent of the total contract value was delivered in social value initiatives. These included 11 prisoners gaining insight in to working in the sector and a Level 1 in Asbestos awareness, interview practice; over £75,000 spent with VCSEs; and specialist advice on soundproofing being provided to a community music project.READ OUR GIBSIDE SCHOOL CASE STUDY
Our win here is testament to the determination and commitment of all our teams to Social Value, but also shows the positive impact construction companies can have in their communities.
Together, as more contractors and clients follow suit, and endeavour to prioritise SV on every project not just those for the public sector, as an industry we can truly help create a positive lasting legacy for all.