Delivering lasting community benefits in Scotland
Peter Porteous, Scape Procure Business Team Leader, explains the importance of social value and how it is embedded within every Scape project to deliver the benefits Scottish communities really need.
What do community benefits mean, to you personally and in a wider context?
Community benefits are tangible, positive outcomes which improve the lives of local people and enable communities to thrive. They are vital for boosting employment and skills, securing the long-term sustainability of facilities and contributing to cleaner, greener spaces for people to live, work and grow within.
For me, it means more local people are in employment due to the initiatives set up by the Social Value Act. It means improved skills for local people, and increased, varied opportunities for local SMEs and micro-businesses, which in turn drives the local economy. It means developing a workforce locally, which reflects the true diversity of the community. Social value, above all, should be about the promotion of ethical procurement and the creation of healthier communities that can prosper.
How does Scape ensure community benefits are delivered on its projects?
Delivering lasting community benefits is crucial for public bodies in Scotland, and this is woven throughout every Scape project. It forms an integral part of our collaborative ethos used to deliver services across the country, through which we hope to inspire change across the industry. It is something we feel very passionately about, and community benefit is embedded in all our specification and procurement activity in Scotland.
Our delivery partners are required to generate minimum values of social value for our clients, and through robust performance management, we guarantee these using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These include the measurement of time, cost and quality minimum standards of local spend, SME engagement, employment, training and apprenticeships as well as sustainability and waste management.
On our Civil Engineering and Infrastructure framework alone, led by Balfour Beatty, we have facilitated an estimated £22.4m in social value, including the following community benefits over the last three and a half years (see table below).
Why is delivering community benefits important?
The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 places a sustainable procurement obligation on public sector bodies and lays the foundations for the systematic delivery and reporting of community benefit in Scotland. Delivering the objectives set by the Government mean generating more opportunities for local Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses within the community and the supply chain, including:
- Employment opportunities for local people, including those who are disadvantaged or NEET (not in education, employment or training).
- Upskilling local people, which improves the employability of young people.
- Improving staff wellbeing and a developing a workforce and culture which reflects the diversity of the local community.
- Promoting Ethical Procurement, which facilitates a healthier, more resilient community.
- Collaborating to support vulnerable people and encourage them to live independently.
How could the Scottish Government improve the promotion of community benefits?
Social value has been underpinned by legislation since the 2012 Public Services Act, which requires all public sector bodies to consider social value in the procurement of services and works. It would be beneficial if the Scottish Government adopted the Social Value Portal’s Themes, Outcomes, Measures (TOMS) approach, to provide economic, social and environmental community benefits across the country. This would help focus attention on the delivery of community benefits and drive successful long-term outcomes for Scotland.
The Government also needs to clearly articulate why social value is important and how it adds real benefit to the communities served, whilst setting out real commitments. Social value is a dynamic process and we need to implement new ways to embed social value into procurement and project delivery, improve outcomes and respond to the changing needs of our modern communities.
We all have a responsibility to prioritise community benefits. What could businesses in Scotland do to further promote them when it comes to their work ethos?
The recent changes are a step in the right direction, however, there are four main areas where businesses could make improvements that will have a real impact:
- Standardisation of community benefit outcomes. Making sure the objectives for delivery in procurement, as well as services and works.
- The specification of services that are delivered directly and through procurement itself, ensuring social value outcomes influence the choice of materials, methods and resources for every project.
- The delivery of performance management activity to ensure community benefit measures are consistently captured and the data used proactively to shape future work.
- Finally, businesses and industry leaders could report progress and celebrate successes, to recognise the achievements more widely.
This year’s Social Value Gathering will see members of public, private and voluntary sectors come together to discuss the future Scotland through the lens of social value. What would your desired outcome of the conference be?
Social value is integral to Scape’s approach and operations and the Social Value Gathering’s values and commitments align closely with ours. It is our hope that by bringing together the public, private and voluntary sectors as well as industry leaders, we can work more closely together to stimulate a change in the delivery, measurement and reporting of social value and create a robust forward plan which puts community benefits at the heart.
The Social Value Gathering will be held at Dynamic Earth on Friday 21stof September. With a week to go and only a few tickets remaining, book your tickets now here.