6th May 2016 Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The construction industry provides huge social value opportunities for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Social value is the notion of a contract being awarded to a company based on the impact the agreement will have on the wider community, rather than just the price being the lowest.

The Social Value act, which was introduced in 2013, requires industry workers to focus on what they can do to create social value opportunities. The industry can provide plenty of social value, but it’s often hard to define and report, which is where the new Building Social Value (BSV) comes in.

BSV is a new, simpler way to report on the social value opportunities created through construction, launched by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) for all CCS-registered sites, companies and suppliers to use. It is influential in providing criteria around how effective contractors are in creating long term social value.

BSV will provide clients, the public and the industry as a whole with a better understanding of the extent to which a particular construction project has created opportunities for long-term social value.

Social value now plays a central role in all procurement activity and having a consistent and robust way to measure outcomes has always been a challenge, but hopefully that should soon change. Before starting the procurement process, commissioners should think about how the services they are going to buy, or the way they are going to buy them, will benefit their area or stakeholders.

This new way of evaluating can deliver a consistent approach, strengthen competitive advantage in tendering, support the planning process and enhance corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes. BSV should provide the means for a third party to evaluate the social value produced by construction sites quickly.

Monitors from the scheme will visit building sites and record the social value created, using a social value monitoring checklist. They will then write up a BSV report based on their findings, so that a track of social value in regards to each company or each individual project can always be found.

Completing the report allows contractors and clients to recognise that gaining a professional, third-party report will help them to evaluate the impact of their construction sites in creating social value for the wider community.

There’s no longer a need for trial and error, maybe that will create social value, maybe it won’t – contractors will now have records of what works and what doesn’t, which in the long run will cut costs, time and impact communities more than ever before.

BSV really adds confidence, for workers, clients and the community that projects are delivering on promises to the community. Knowing a project is about more than just building a building will hopefully be uplifting to workers – knowing you’re helping something/someone and giving a little back is never a bad thing.