Social value centred in new guide to help local authorities tackle climate change

Eunomia Research & Consulting and SUEZ recycling and recovery UK (SUEZ) have published a guide to help local authorities tackle climate change and a green recovery.

The guide is titled Increasing the social value delivered by environmental services contracts: A Guide for local authorities, and outlines how social value can be significant for environmental services contracts.

The guide is a response to the recent revisions made to the 2012 Social Value Act, which sees the Government placing social value at the centre of public spending.

The amendments to the Act will attempt to recalibrate public services and expenditure in order to ensure that they reap maximum social value.

In the report, social value is defined by seven principles: involving stakeholders, understanding changes, valuing things that matter, only including what is material, not over-claiming, being transparent, and verifying results.

The guide focuses on the three key stages involved in executing a contract. Each stage is accompanied by guidance on how to weave social value into all phases of the contract’s journey, from preparation to delivery.

For the first phase, preparation and planning, it is advised that contractors engage with the community, stakeholders and external partners, and align any social value priorities with that of the local authority.

The need for flexibility is also emphasised; potential challenges should be taken into account, and unforeseen roadblocks may require the contract to adapt and change accordingly.

Furthermore, the tender/procurement phase should make sure that the weighting allocated to social value is duly proportionate and reflective of its value and objective.

Additionally significant at this stage is the question structure that local authorities use to ask bidders about their social value, as well as the evaluation and scoring of submission for social value.

In the delivery phase, Eunomia advises on clear contract management for the effective delivery of social value throughout the contract. Maintained monitoring and measuring of this process is essential, as is responding to any necessary changes.

The appointment of a social value delivery manager, and dedication from senior management, are deemed useful for the successful delivery of a service that centres social value.

In this way, centering social value in the contractual process allows local authorities to accommodate for the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

Chief Executive Officer for SUEZ, John Scanlon, commented: “The essential services that our sector delivers touch every household in the UK, making it a natural candidate to create and embed meaningful social value in local communities up and down the country.

“Social value has grown to become a fundamental element of our business strategy at SUEZ and has the potential to play a key role in a green recovery from the pandemic.

“It’s imperative that businesses large and small challenge themselves to identify what more they can do - from enhancing the career aspirations of the next generation and creating local employment opportunities, to improving biodiversity and coordinating community litter picks – there are actions we can all take to benefit the communities in which we operate.

“This guide highlights the significant opportunities that lie ahead. By sharing experiences, working in partnership, and continuing to innovate, we can go on to deliver even greater social value for local communities.”

David Pietropaoli, Head of Procurement at Eunomia Research and Consulting, said: “Eunomia was pleased to be asked by SUEZ to research and produce this guide, recognising the importance of delivering additional social, economic and environmental benefits to communities through local authority environmental services contracts.

“For many years we have helped local authorities with re-tenders of their long-term, high value waste collection and recycling services contracts, helping them to push to deliver the maximum social value possible through contract delivery.

“We hope that by sharing the findings of this research, more local authorities will be inspired to explore the opportunities available for delivering social value in their environmental services contracts, using this guide as a framework to do so.”