The Social Value Act of 2012 now requires all public service organisations to ‘consider’ social value when awarding services contracts. This is an act that requires all public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts; and for connected purposes. As a concept, social value seeks to maximise the additional benefit that can be created by procuring or commissioning services, above and beyond the benefit of merely the services themselves. Organisations engaging with the public sector either through procurement or planning need to consider how they report their contribution to local communities (i.e. social value).
Legal & General are committed to implementing Social Value as an added value contribution to the contract for the former TRL site, and have employed “The Social Value Portal”, CEO Guy Battle, to ensure that Crowthorne and Bracknell benefits from the Social Value that can be inherent in this development.
In fact we intend to go one better than that, and that is to create the first Social Value Charter in the UK, and for Crowthorne to be an exemplar to the UK for how to do business in the public sector.
Legal & General recognise that the way they spend £300m (approx.) over 10 years in developing the site could have a wider benefit to the community beyond the direct provision of 1,000 homes, primary school, community centre etc.
An obvious example of “economic benefit” is that contractors on the site could be required to reserve a certain number of apprenticeships (bricklaying, carpentry etc.) for local people, thus providing enhanced career prospects for Crowthorne youngsters. Or where possible, contracts could be directed towards local businesses to benefit local traders, indirectly providing more local jobs. (This might even reduce the amount of air pollution as people wouldn’t be commuting as far…).
The first step in developing the “Community Charter” is for the community to work together to identify the key challenges facing us and then to come up with ideas about how these challenges might be addressed.
Step two identifies further ways that our community could grow and get stronger in terms of “economic”, “environmental” or “social” benefits – and then set targets (called “measures”) to make the charter a practical tool. So in the above example, the measures could be the number of apprentices created, or the amount of money spent with local businesses.
Whilst the initial impetus may come from L&G purchasing power, the concept only works when the “community” takes ongoing ownership of the charter, sets the high level direction and crucially recognises that this is a team effort between L&G, local businesses, community groups), local government and other agencies. Crowthorne Parish Council (CPC) has agreed to “own” the charter so now the process needs to start in identifying community needs, benefits and associated measures / targets.