Chris Brown of Igloo Regeneration's 'Behind the Hype' podcast, for the information site Building, cuts through the noise on a number of key elements on Social Value from his experience as a building developer operating in the built environment. It is a good podcast if you have time to listen to and led me to thinking about getting back to basics with Social Value.

So here is my quick guide on the What, Why and How for Social Value:

What is Social Value?

Social Value refers to wider financial and non-financial impacts of programmes, organisations and interventions, including: 

  • the wellbeing of individuals and communities
  • social capital
  • the environment

It can also be viewed as an evolution/developed component of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Why is Social Value important?

The construction sector has significant capacity to deliver social value through the projects and initiatives that are delivered due to the type of work that is undertaken; this is due to projects being undertaken in and around communities that directly affect and impact those in the local areas. Social Value is an approach that focuses on delivering added value beyond the financial to those communities and local areas.

As well as this, public sector legislation across the UK in England (Public Services Act 2012), Scotland (Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014) and Wales (Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015) has included Social Value and well-being of communities as a requirement for local authorities when procuring goods and services. 

As mentioned by Chris Brown in the podcast, the legislation is focused on the contract of services and not capital goods and construction but in 'construction where the numbers tend to be a lot bigger than for services, they can make quite a lot of good happen using the same social value ideas'; they being local authorities.

Both Pick Everard and Perfect Circle recognise that, in delivering the strategic objectives of the business and those of our clients’ businesses, we have a responsibility to the environment, the communities within which we work, our own people, our supply chain and society as a whole.

How is Social Value realised?

The principles outlined by Social Value UK are a very good guideline to realising the social value needs for your organisation, clients and community; the principles are:

  • Involve stakeholders 
  • Understand what changes 
  • Value the things that matter 
  • Only include what is material 
  • Do not over-claim 
  • Be transparent 
  • Verify the result 

Using a framework such as the National Themes, Outcomes and Measures (TOMs), as we do at Perfect Circle, provides structure to implement those principles. TOMs is a methodology that enables the quantification of social value measures with associated monetary proxies for the measures, where applicable.

Some examples of social value measures include apprenticeships, school/higher education engagement, CV/interview workshops, CO2 carbon emissions, waste to land fill, skills development etc. The key is to identify through following the principles the measures that are needed for the project and/or in the local community.

It is key to point out that not all social value measures can or should be quantified as the qualitative value/impact is then lost. A combined approach of qualitative and quantitative measures should be used to capture the full context and impact of the social value.