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SVP Webinar – The National TOMs Tutorial

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Monday the 11th of May to take part in our National TOMs tutorial webinar. The full presentation can be viewed at the bottom of this page. You can download the presentation slides from the day by clicking here.

We were delighted with the enthusiastic audience engagement for this webinar, and due to the sheer volume of questions that were submitted we unfortunately didn’t have time to answer every one of them during Q&A session. Here are a few responses to some unanswered queries that were posted:

 

Q – If the bidder is already a social enterprise that achieves social value through their core service delivery model, how can we best communicate this via the TOMs that differentiates us against commercial competitors that are committing to ad hoc social value commitments in this specific contract?

A- Assessing the SV on a contract has to be specified to the contract itself. However, the bidder can make sure that the core SV delivery is clear in the earliest stage of the tender so that it can be a factor of them being shortlisted. If bidder has assessed their SV corporately they should be able to use that experience in how they develop their response to their ITT.

 

Q – What is the typical project implementation time for Social Value portal?

A – Once an organisation becomes a member, setting up a project can be done very quickly. If the organisation know what set of measures they want to use, like using the NTs, project can be set up within a week. Please get in touch for more information.

 

Q – Is there an online platform for the successful bidder to provide regular reports on progress on outcomes during delivery?

A – Once the bidder wins a contract, their account will be set up for contract management onto the Social Value Portal. They will then be able to enter their delivery against targets and report can be downloaded from the portal.

 

Q – The COVID plug-in draws the distinction between policies to support groups and initiatives to support vulnerable groups. What is the difference in real terms between those activities? 

A – Initiatives are programmes, interventions  – while policies and strategies outline principles, approaches (usually at corporate level) and might detail programmes or interventions to be delivered.

 

Q – If the mandatory measures are selected , do we allow bidders to choose additional ones? How do we score them?

A – The mandatory measures are mandatory for the bidder to answer. However, the bidder is free to answer any of the other measures (or not), they can pick which one they want to input targets against. The measures will get scored equally.

 

Q – It is sometimes a difficult challenge for SMEs to compete with larger practices with regards delivering sufficient SV even though we can provide a good ‘local’ offer. What are your thoughts on this?

A – Many SME’s based within a local area actively contribute to their communities on an ongoing basis however they may not categorise their efforts as social value because their contribution is part of their company culture rather than as a result of winning a contract. Having local connections within a community is an advantage that is often under represented by SME’s during the tendering process and is a great opportunity for SME’s to score well under social value e.g. partnering with local schools / colleges to provide work experience, mentoring other micro or small organisations based in the community, working with local job centres to target opportunities so they benefit residents from disadvantaged backgrounds, including other local businesses in the supply chain etc can often be quicker and easier for SME’s to coordinate than for large organisations that require approvals from multiple departments. A good tip for local SME’s is to engage their employees on a regular basis, document and collect evidence of what they are doing to support their communities in the form of a Goodwill Log which will help generate ideas of what initiatives could be repeated when tender opportunities arise.

Q – How do the TOMs account for duration of impact and drop off?

A – TOMs proxies currently only measure social value impacts that occur during the first year of any measure. They provide a conservative baseline measurement scenario, this approach was chosen to reduce risks of overclaiming. Any long-term trends, including duration beyond year 1 and drop off, are therefore not accounted for.

 

Q – How do the TOMs interelate with the Social Value Bank & HACT Wellbeing meaures?

A – The TOMs apply a social cost benefit analysis methodology that makes use of market prices and other financial measurements. The methodology is informed by benefits assessments methods as outlined by the HM Treasury Green Book. The HACT Social Value Bank makes use of Wellbeing Valuation. This means HACT makes use of subjective wellbeing measurements to determine social value impacts.

 

Q – Some of the TOMs have very restrictive age limits (under 24’s), would it be possible to remove the age restriction as we often work with ex-offenders who will be over 24?

A – All TOMs Proxies have been developed to provide a targeted and tailored measurement of the related Social Value Impact of the respective Measure. Changing the age range for a Measure would therefore require a reassessment of the Proxy and of the data used for calculating the Proxy value, as the new age range might not reflect the Proxy assumptions anymore.

 

Q – If NEETs are engaged with an organisation like a training provider and we find them an opportunity for work, can we count this as a NEET outcome, or is this technically double counting if the training provider receives funding to run their course?

A – If the training provider receives funding from your organisation this would constitute double counting.

 

Q – You have a procurment measure calculator and a measure calculator are they both used for contracts?

A – Procurement calculator is to be used at bid stage (to set up targets). Measurement calculator is to be used during contract management (for delivery)

 

Q – Do you think that procuring bodies have enough maturity to prioritise TOMs? As a main contractor we’ve never seen a weighted toms issued by a client during procurement which makes it very difficult to understand the priority for clients. Our observation would be that the procuring departments aren’t close enough to the delivery of social value to understand what that can mean. This was discussed serveal times during the conference in January.

A – There are organisations at different levels of maturity when it comes to social value. The clients that we work with have started using the prioritisation tool following training that we have delivered to both the procurement and commissioning teams. It can sometimes be difficult for procurement teams to understand how to flex and adapt the TOM’s framework which is why providing access to training and helping employees improve their knowledge / skills is something that we actively advocate for within the Public Sector.

 

Q – Comment rather than question – the issue with the quantitive scoring of social value is that it prevents bidders from putting in specific proposals tailored to the communities we are working in because the community values are usually pound for pound investment, which doesn’t normally outway the proxy values applied to the local employment measures. Is there a way around this?

A – This is a good challenge and we are considering how to ensure these opportunities get a ‘fairer’ hearing by using subweightings.

 

Q – As a charity, could our own volunteers’ donation of hours count under ‘voluntary hours provided’ e.g. under NT 17 or 29?

A – No, only paid staff hours can be counted. This means that volunteering work done my unpaid volunteers cannot be counted. In a way, this is their “own” Social Value.

 

Q – For charites, does fundraising to spend on your own charitable deliverables (e.g. purchasing furniture or food vouchers to donate to clients in crisis, within the commissioning locality) still count under NT16?

A – Only project specific and related donations can be counted. If all fundraising are to be spend on a contract level that is fine. This could also be added up measuring your own SV a corporate level.

 

Q – Comment rather than question – the issue with the quantitive scoring of social value is that it prevents bidders from putting in specific proposals tailored to the communities we are working in because the community values are usually pound for pound investment, which doesn’t normally outway the proxy values applied to the local employment measures. Is there a way around this?

A – This is a good challenge and we are considering how to ensure these opportunities get a ‘fairer’ hearing by using subweightings.

 

Q – Why isn’t training and/or apprenticeships for existing staff applicable to social value (NT9/10) as explained in the guidance?

A – The Proxy value for NT9 and NT10 includes a measuring of immediate and pay related individual financial benefits resulting form an apprenticeship or VQ measure. For internal staff upskilling these financial benefits would be different – therefore the Proxy for NT9 and NT10 cannot be applied.

 

Q – Can you outline how you have aligned the TOMs framework to the UNSDGs?

A – The TOMs and UNSDGs are distinct and separate frameworks. A TOMs mapping to the UNSDGs has been undertaken and allows for an identification of estimated social value contributions to each of the global goals. While the TOMs are not developed to maximise positive UNSDG impacts they can still help highlight positive contributions through the shared goal of creating a fairer and more sustainable world.

 

Q – How might a small district council with limited resources and relatively few high value procurements make best use of TOMS? Its complexity seems to be a barrier to usage?

A – The TOMs framework may appear complex because of the extent of the choice of measures available. When we work with client’s we simplify the framework by developing a version of the TOM’s that is best suited to the needs and priorities of the contracting authority and the locality. We adopt a consultative approach and engage stakeholders from across the organisation which ensures that the be-spoked version reflects only those measures that will have a real impact on local residents. If you have relatively few procurements of high value (above OJEU) we would suggest developing a version that has no more than 30 measures. In terms of resources our team offers various levels of support which can help you bridge this gap. Investing in training always helps to demystify the complexity and we would be happy to speak to you about how we can help you.

 

Q – We deliver lots of contracts for government and they often ask for place based value eg local employment/supply chain. However, the rise of digital solutions (which the client wants) and pressure to deliver at the cheapest price means we find this challenging as we will be delivering the contract using an existing team based outside the area. Any thoughts of how we can tackle this?

A – If you are unable to deliver local employment / supply chain opportunities directly you could explore opportunities to deliver training or other skills development initiatives remotely. You could partner with local schools, colleges or job centres to provide CV workshops, interview skills and/or career talks online. There are also various other measures such as business mentoring, befriending services, fundraising etc than you can deliver without being based locally.

Q – We deliver lots of contracts for government and they often ask for place based value eg local employment/supply chain. However, the rise of digital solutions (which the client wants) and pressure to deliver at the cheapest price means we find this challenging as we will be delivering the contract using an existing team based outside the area. Any thoughts of how we can tackle this?

A – If you are unable to deliver local employment / supply chain opportunities directly you could explore opportunities to deliver training or other skills development initiatives remotely. You could partner with local schools, colleges or job centres to provide CV workshops, interview skills and/or career talks online. There are also various other measures such as business mentoring, befriending services, fundraising etc than you can deliver without being based locally.

 

Q – How can innovative responses to social value from suppliers in the market be considered when the quantitative assessment appears very prescriptive in what can be provided? Is there flexibility for them to provide innovation without being disadvatanged in a quantitive evaluation?

A – The innovation section in the TOM’s provides the opportunity for suppliers to propose initiatives that other measures in the TOM’s do not cover. When using this section suppliers should provide an estimate value based on the resources they would be investing e.g. If a supplier wants to deliver a STEM programme in a school, a campaign to raise awareness on Dementia, Mental Health etc they should have an idea about the level of resources that they would be investing e.g. staff time, materials, travel, venue hire for events, equipment etc.

 

Q – Regarding the housing sector, will there be any future focus re the TOMS on this sector or plugins, etc.? I currently facilitate a social value leadership group of sv leads from different housing associations and am trying to encourge the use of TOMS through that platform and asking membes to have conversations with their HAs about taking up the TOMS as at least a means of measuring social vlaue from their supply chains.

A – We are exploring the possibility to developing an Housing Association Plug-in. Please, feel free to get in touch with us at info@socialvalueportal.com as we are looking for HAs feedback.

 

Q – Dont you think that some NTs can skew a response e.g. NT5 exoffenders in your slide massively outweighed the other 2 impacts. So if a bidder includes 1 exoffender they hugely increase their score making the others irerelevant? Is there any levelling up?

A – This is a potential issue. To mitigate this a prioritisation mechanism is included at procurement stage, to allow for those measures most relevant to the procuring agency to reap comparatively higher Social Value impacts than others. Also, measures with high Proxy values are generally more significant in terms of scope. NT5 refers to 1 person being employed for 1 full year on full time basis. This makes such proxies look “large” when compared to e.g. hourly proxies.

 

Q – How do you account for contract size, I am a small provider wanting a £200k contract but ome one bids for £1m there will be clearly more SV in the latter will I be penalised?

A – We always recommend that contracting authorities allow suppliers to propose social value that is within their capacity and capability to deliver as opposed to setting a mandatory £value for social value commitments. If the total contract value is £1million and it is tendered as 5 lots of £200K each, then as one would submit a price bid individually for each lot so too should they submit a social value bid for each lot. Each lot should be assessed independently of other lots thereby ensuring that a bidder that competes for all 5 lots i.e. the £1million contract does not have an unfair advantage over the bidder that competes for a single lot i.e. the £200k contract. Based on the evidence that we have collated the bidder with the optimum combination of price / quality and social value is usually successful in winning the contract.

 

Q – If a job is created through a contract and the contract is lost after 3 years the job opportunity may be lost with the contract so how would that be measured?

A – NT Proxies only measure Social Value impacts for the first year. If a job is lost after three years this would therefore not feature in any NT Social Value measurement.

 

Q – How do you account for contract size, I am a small provider wanting a £200k contract but ome one bids for £1m there will be clearly more SV in the latter will I be penalised?

A – We always recommend that contracting authorities allow suppliers to propose social value that is within their capacity and capability to deliver as opposed to setting a mandatory £value for social value commitments. If the total contract value is £1million and it is tendered as 5 lots of £200K each, then as one would submit a price bid individually for each lot so too should they submit a social value bid for each lot. Each lot should be assessed independently of other lots thereby ensuring that a bidder that competes for all 5 lots i.e. the £1million contract does not have an unfair advantage over the bidder that competes for a single lot i.e. the £200k contract. Based on the evidence that we have collated the bidder with the optimum combination of price / quality and social value is usually successful in winning the contract.

 

Q – Any advice for using TOMs in Scotland – what level of uptake from public sector in Scotland?

A – We are using the TOMs with the Scottish Future Hub Programme. There are a number of ongoing discussions with Arcadis about the TOMs and hopefully we will be taking something forward shortly.

 

Q – If the contract is an economic development fund designed to invest in business to create over 1000 jobs, would all jobs created as a result of investment be counted?

A – Only jobs directly created on contract and for contract purposes can be counted for a National TOMs Social Value impact measurement. If all of those 1000 jobs are created on contract all can be counted, if they qualify in line with NT Measure definitions. Any jobs beyond the contract can not be couted..

 

You can listen to our full Q&A from the webinar in the video below starting from 51:04.

Special thanks to our panelists Guy Battle, Lise Rosat, Philipp Cyrus and Cindy Nadesan for their time. Stay tuned for updates on future webinars and events!