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County Durham Pound: A place-based collective approach

Social Value Portal has been working alongside Durham County Council to support the County Durham Pound initiative, driving forward place-based Social Value.

The County Durham Pound project includes a web of activity to bring a range of stakeholders to the stage to make the place-based collective approach a reality, and the first project of its kind across the UK.

Durham Cathedral and River Wear in Spring in Durham, England

What is the County Durham Pound Project?

The project

The project was born out of Durham County Council’s desire to maximise the value of every pound spent in the area and drive local wealth. By adopting a place-based approach, all parts of the community are engaged to help them.

Local network

Durham County Council wanted to establish a local network with public sector partners – anchor institutions – to improve placed-based procurement and local spending, collaborative sourcing and local social value impact. This has grown to include private sector businesses, too.

A collective

As a collective, those partners will ensure their buying and employing power and social value contributions work to benefit the people and communities of County Durham.

The County Durham Family

karbon homes logo

What will the project achieve?

The Project aims to achieve some key outcomes for local businesses and the people of County Durham:

  • Create more jobs for local people
  • Prioritise better health and wellbeing
  • Focus on equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Reduce impact on the environment
  • Support with meaningful training and upskilling
  • Help communities, groups and charities

Mechanisms for unlocking social value



Thinking about how to spend money and choose suppliers to generate additional benefits for the local community. This could mean organisations collaborating on tenders, bids or contracts.

Organisational activities and programmes

Organisational activities and programmes

These include all workplace initiatives that increase Social Value for employees or the wider organisation e.g. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies, Cycle to Work schemes, employability programmes for local people and employee engagement initiatives.

Grant funding

Grant funding

Many organisations choose to offer grants to support Social Value initiatives. These include funding for community projects, not-for-profit organisations or helping local businesses with innovation and the circular economy.

Capital spending

Capital spending

This is the money spent by organisations on physical assets. To increase social value this could mean replacing lighting with LED or adding solar panels to a building.



New development can be a big driver of social value by thinking carefully about how something is built, who builds it and how the space will ultimately be used.

How does the project work?

To begin the project, our team of expert consultants liaised with all 12 Durham partners to develop a coherent approach to maximising Social Value in the county, ensuring each and every need and priority was understood.

We also worked closely with Durham County Council to employ a local Social Value Coordinator to lead on supporting the delivery of the initiative and engage with the partner network.

Our consultants then conducted a comprehensive Local Needs Analysis, in collaboration with the County Council’s Research and Intelligence Team.

Darren Knowd speaking at the Country Durham Pound launch Sept 2022
Darren Knowd speaking at the Country Durham Pound launch Sept 2022

The County Durham Family TOMs

By harnessing partner priorities, as well as insights from the Durham Local Needs Analysis, our team developed the County Durham Family TOMs. Each partner now has an account on our Portal to track their organisational Social Value using this collective set of measures.

Debbie Howe presenting at Country Durham Pound launch Sept 2022
Debbie Howe presenting at Country Durham Pound launch Sept 2022

Place-based into practice

The next step was putting together a Statement of Intent for partners to get behind and commit to working together to achieve the project goals. We have now set up a Social Value Working Group with representatives from the partner organisations. The Group meets quarterly to discuss progress and how we can make the project go further, and help the community to thrive.

Social Value Portal will also be providing a training programme for partners and their suppliers, covering how the TOMs framework works, how to include Social Value in procurement, and how to do this all, using the Portal.



Want more information?

You can find out more about the project on the Social Value Knowledge Hub, including access to all the resources, statement of intent and Local Needs Analysis for County .