A different approach to managing procurement and contract management
Cardiff Council has long been recognised for its commitment and leadership in prioritising social responsibility. The council’s five year plan, Capital Ambition, contains a commitment to social value, which prioritises social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing for the region.
The procurement team recognised that the way their £500 million annual spend with suppliers and contractors is managed can make a significant contribution to this commitment. The council have had a well-established Socially Responsible Procurement Policy in place since 2018, which focuses on six areas:
- Providing local training and employment opportunities
- Supporting Cardiff-based businesses
- Partnering with community initiatives
- Staying green and sustainable
- Ensuring ethical employment
- Promoting the wellbeing of young people and vulnerable adults
Key to delivery has been securing commitments from suppliers and contractors. The council has used the Welsh Government community benefits toolkit for a number of years but a review identified an opportunity to:
- Increase the number of contracts which contain community benefits
- Ensure community benefit commitments are delivered through improved contract management
- Improve measurement and reporting on delivery
Making social value easier and accessible for all
The council wanted to be able to consistently measure and monitor community benefits, and the procurement team decided to adopt the National TOMs social value framework. They then chose Social Value Portal as the platform to integrate with their procurement and contract management processes.
Our team assisted Cardiff Council during the setup. The procurement team mapped ‘basic’, ‘light’ and ‘full’ TOMs sets relevant to the subject matter and value of the contract. This approach removes the needs for complex prioritisation and weighting, which in turn meant it was more accessible for smaller businesses. At the same time, it supports delivery against defined commitments and targets.
Maximising social value in tenders
The first project where the Council used the TOMs was the development of the Cardiff Indoor Arena. This substantial project went out to tender in July 2020. The project will cost around £150 million to build and is projected to attract more than one million visitors per year and is forecast to inject an estimated £100m into the local economy per year. Having the TOMs framework in place allowed Cardiff Council to evaluate the tenders fairly, make informed decisions, and secure the preferred bidder against balanced commitments. Since then, the Council has used the TOMs on over 30 projects.
Going forward, Social Value Portal will enable the Council, and the successful contractor, to manage the contract efficiently and effectively, against all commitments to deliver social, economic, cultural and environmental value.
As Steve Robinson, the Head of Commissioning and Procurement for the Council states:
The TOMs Framework and Social Value Portal provides the clear mechanism for maximising social value at the tender stage. But, just as importantly it allows us to manage and report on delivery – an area which has been historically weak across the public sector.
Reporting and measuring on social value commitments
Measuring and reporting on social value delivery, particularly for smaller contracts was a particular challenge for the Council. Therefore, a solution was needed to provide tangible evidence and support contract management.
Until partnering with Social Value Portal and adopting the National TOMs, the only reporting tool available was the Welsh Government Measuring Tool, used only for contracts above £2m. But this tool did not allow wider policy context or evidence of delivery against commitments. It also left a gap in measuring against smaller value contracts.
Our specialist social value team worked closely with Cardiff Council during the implementation process to advise on realistic and effective measures. The outcome has made social value evaluation and reporting easier for all sizes of contracts, and particularly accessible to smaller businesses.
As Steve reflected
There was some confusion when we first adopted the framework, However, we can now see the difference its making and it’s getting better and better over time. Compared to what we did before using the National TOMS and Social Value Portal, it’s now so much easier. Now you can see proper commitments and targets.
Leading the way in social responsibility
Cardiff Council is delighted to see real results with impact and aims to continue to roll out the Social Value Portal approach.
“The potential of the National TOMS Framework and the Social Value Portal has been evident from the outset, providing worth where it has been utilised to date. We are still learning with every project we do but our aim is that the TOMs will become embedded in the way we award and manage contracts.”
Cardiff Council is now starting to share best practice and case studies. These include ‘real human stories’ of effective community benefits in practice, making social value easier and accessible to all.