Providing local benefits with smarter services procurement
Hoa Ngo

5 minutes

Providing local benefits with smarter services procurement

While corporate brands are increasingly realising the economic benefits of local community engagement, public sector organisations have long understood their responsibility to provide social value in their use of external resources. By partnering with an MSP, local authorities can ensure they deliver tangible, measurable benefits to their local areas through effective services procurement.

Across the public sector, the concept of creating social value in procurement is nothing new: the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 placed a responsibility on relevant organisations to consider economic, social and environmental wellbeing in connection with public services contracts. However, with social value measurement becoming increasingly standardised, having robust processes in place to procure products and services in an ethical way has never been more important.

Today, we know that taking a socially-conscious approach is mutually beneficial for all stakeholders – and services procurement is arguably the area that can have the greatest positive impact on the wider community. But how can local authorities best ensure they are embedding social value into business decisions?

Measuring social value in procurement

Launched in 2017, The National Social Value Measurement Framework – or National TOMs – is a method of reporting and measuring social value to a consistent standard. Now endorsed by the Local Government Association, adoption has spread rapidly throughout the local government sector. It is worth noting that central government is also developing a new approach to delivering social value, which is based on similar principles.

The idea behind National TOMs is to make it simpler to embed social value into corporate strategies. The TOMs Framework has also been designed to embed local priorities and signpost businesses to areas of the greatest need in communities, where their actions will add the most value. Priorities will vary between local authorities but often include:

  • the need to help provide jobs for young adults leaving care
  • opportunities for the long-term unemployed
  • support for community groups, or
  • protecting the environment.

Of the five key themes promoted by the TOMs Framework, three can be directly impacted by smart, ethical recruitment practices:

  • building healthier, safer and more resilient communities
  • supporting the growth of responsible regional businesses, and
  • promoting local skills and employment.

Employment and the community: why partnering with an MSP makes sense

For local authorities seeking talent, the wide-ranging benefits of partnering with an MSP are hard to ignore: from access to skills and the agility to flex workforces, to a dedicated point of contact and enhanced compliance. However, MSPs are also perfectly placed to ensure that public sector organisations meet their obligations when it comes to embedding social value in MSP programmes - and recording and measuring their subsequent success.

A great MSP will work with their clients to ensure that strategies are tailored to a local authority’s individual objectives, whether that be finding suitable roles for residents, identifying training opportunities or ensuring local small and medium enterprises are part of the supply chain. The best MSPs understand that identifying social value in procurement is more than just a tick-box exercise – it offers the chance to make a real difference.

Success in Southwark

The Inner-London borough of Southwark is home to around 314,000 people. Across the Local Authority, around 40% of children are judged to be living in poverty. Income deprivation in Southwark is also higher than the London average, with 8.2% of the working age population claiming benefits.

Southwark Council originally tendered its requirement for a vendor neutral managed service provider of temporary and interim staff in 2005, awarding a contract to Comensura which went live in April 2006. Since then, this partnership has gone from strength-to-strength.

The headline reduction in spend Southwark Council has made as a result of working with Comensura are impressive, with total spend reduced from a peak of £43m per annum to £22m, through the introduction of demand management and workforce planning initiatives. However, outcomes from the social value elements of the contractual relationship are arguably even more notable.

With support from Southwark Works – a local authority-funded programme which supports the employability needs of Southwark’s most disadvantaged residents – Southwark Council and Comensura are offering real social value.

In fact, since partnering with Comensura, Southwark’s jobseekers have secured invaluable opportunities working in admin, IT, finance and benefits, social and healthcare and HR. Early in 2021 local residents were also offered exciting roles in the Electoral Services team ahead of the May mayoral elections. This activity is providing individuals with high quality work experience to enhance their CV and job prospects, with temp roles often leading to something more permanent. The Council, meanwhile, is able to access previously untapped talent pools secure in the knowledge that it is helping to tackle economic inequality locally.

In addition, the partnership also provides Southwark Works’ service users with access to Comensura’s network of suppliers, which are offering practical support in areas such as CV writing and interview techniques.

As Jane Couchman, Programme Manager at Southwark Works, highlights: “It has been good to work with them [Comensura] because it has given us access to a large number of temporary vacancies with the Local Authority which is obviously right on our doorstep… and given us access to opportunities we weren’t even aware of before.”

As the above example demonstrates, partnering with an MSP to focus on social value in procurement creates benefits beyond the hiring organisation itself. Ultimately, the practice can elevate the aspirations, opportunities and the prosperity of local communities – advantages that all local authorities will appreciate.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you provide real social value in your local community.

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