9th June Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Ever since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, the procurement landscape has been changing with public sector bodies now requiring contractors to deliver ‘added value’ as part of contracts.

Social value is about having regard for the social, economic and environmental well-being of communities in the procurement process, it’s not just about the lowest cost any more. The public sector has always had the option to consider the additional benefits to a community through procurement, but the introduction of the Act finally made it a requirement, to ensure that authorities get best value from public spending by also benefiting the community.

The industry provides huge social value opportunities for local communities, the local economy and the environment. Opportunities could be anything from; providing training or work experience opportunities for unemployed people and employing apprentices to using local suppliers or recycled materials and engaging with local schools or community groups – it really could be anything that will be beneficial to the local area or community. Employment, skills and living environment make up three of the seven indices of multiple deprivation as defined by the UK Government back in 2015. As an industry, we have the partnerships and the skillset to make such a difference in these key areas.

I’m a huge advocate of getting young people into the industry, so projects that help get young people to the career ladder, whether it’s through employment opportunities or giving them the training and skills to seek jobs in the future, really appeal to me. But, that’s what it’s all about, thinking of what the industry or area needs and submitting project tenders that will do everything they can to help us get there.

Constructing Excellence in the North East are holding an event next Thursday (15 June) to discuss the requirements under the Social Value Act, how it’s affecting procurement and how the construction sector can help the public sector meet its aims and objectives of creating additional value. Guest speakers include; Darush Dodds, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Added Value at Esh Group, Michelle Brennan, Project Five Consulting, who specialises in Social Value and works across the sector developing positive approaches towards a more sustainable built environment and Karen McCarthy, Regional Manager, Career Ready – a charity that works to increase the employability of students through engagements with businesses and industry professionals. Karen works with a number of schools and colleges across the North East and is keen to link them all with employers to help prepare young people for the world of work.

For more information or to register your interest please contact Amy Holmes on 0191 500 7880 or amy@cene.org.uk.