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  • 5 minutes
  • 07/08/2020

Looking back at our first season of webinars

Social Value Portal chief executive, Guy Battle, reflects on what we’ve learned over our season of webinars and what you can look forward to next.

Our chief executive, Guy Battle, reflects on what we’ve learned over these past 3 months of webinars and what you can look forward to when we return in September.

And so our summer season of webinars draws to a close for the holidays. It’s been frenetic, but very rewarding with 7 webinars running over the past 3 months covering a wide range of topics from the launch of our COVID-19 TOMs Plug-In, a TOMs tutorial, how to contract manage the effective delivery of social value, supporting SMEs, integrating social value into planning, and finally a discussion around climate change and the actions we need to take to ensure not only a recovery, but a Green recovery.

During this time we have had some fantastic collaborators, too many to name check here, but some of the organisations that have supported us include Manchester City Council, Federation of Small Businesses, The Big Issue, West Midlands Combined Authority, Balfour Beatty, WSP and the developers, First Base.

So what have we learned….

First of all the results of our polling data – with over 1660 people registered across the 7 events and attendees from across all sectors: public, private, voluntary and many others. Key and in some cases, surprising findings include:

  • Almost everyone (over 98%) believes that it makes sense to integrate social value into procurement and that this is even more important (rather than less) as we look to emerge out of the pandemic
  • We found that many organisations do not yet have a social value policy (just 54%). This is surprising given the fact that the Social Value Act is over 8 years old – a fact backed up by our own research that shows that only 23% of local authorities actually have a social value policy noted on their websites.
  • There has been a high degree of support for the National TOMs with over 70% either using them already or interested in using them.
  • There clear agreement that a social value weighting of at least 10% should be used within procurement with the private sector suggesting that it should be closer to 15% with 10% saying that weighting of over 20% should be used. This would seem to indicate that the time is right for buyers to be BOLDER
  • We found that many of you are already seeing social value in tenders (80%) with the majority thinking that social value should be included in all tenders above a threshold of £100k.
  • We asked the question about whether central government should include a quantitative weighting in their proposals for embedding social value into their own buying decisions and the result was an overwhelming ‘Yes’.
  • We asked if businesses could do more than they presently do and whether there should be an independent way of accrediting delivery to which a surprising 60% said yes.
  • During our SME session there was general agreement that SME could struggle with social value (70% showed their concern) but that this should not stop the inclusion of social value into tenders, rather SMEs and VCSEs should be supported to learn and engage.
  • And finally, we asked everyone whether when we do go back, it should be the same as before and over 99% people gave a resounding ‘No’ as their answer.

Our contributors also provided us with some fascinating insights to help us take the debate forward including looking at how Social Value should be integrated into the planning process with over 85% of attendees agreeing that this should be on the agenda. During this session, we learned from Ailish Ryan from WSP sharing the results of a survey carried out showing that 34 councils already include links between social value and planning with a number such as Islington linking social value with their Local Plans. A move that we all agreed would transform the planning process. Also during this session we heard from Liam Ronan-Chlond from the developer First Base on how they are now including social value into all of the planning submissions because it helps the planners better understand the wider value for the community created by a development.

We also ran a Contract Management and TOMs Tutorial with over X people signing up across the 2 events. It is great to see so many organisations supporting the move towards the National TOMs as a means of measuring, procuring and reporting social value. During these two sessions we heard about some fantastic case studies from Solihull Council, West Midlands Combined Authority and Star Procurement all of whom are using the TOMs and successfully delivering real additional value with Star achieving an impressive £31m equivalent to +25% over the past 15 months.

More recently we kicked off our Social Value North West series ‘Time to Act’. Despite this series being all about promoting and discussing the issues facing the NW, we attracted an audience from across the UK including attendees from Cornwall and even Bangkok in Thailand! We had a fantastic discussion led by Big Issue Invest, Manchester City Council and Balfour Beatty – did you know that Manchester City Council is using a social value weighting of 30% in some contracts.

This of course isn’t the end and we will return to these topics in our next season, revisiting sessions like part 2 of our Real Estate series which will cover construction, and our next Time to Act seminar. But we are not leaving you in a vacuum with nothing today as we have also launched a summer conversation and discussion that we will use to work out how we should use the TOMs to Build Back Better, Greener, Fairer and we hope you will all get involved.

All of our recorded webinars are available via our YouTube playlist here. And finally, we would like to wish you all an enjoyable summer and we look forward to welcoming you to our upcoming Autumn series.