Solstice Nurseries maintenance services

Background Info

Grampian Housing Association awarded a 3 year open spaces maintenance contract worth £100,000 to Solstice Nurseries in 2006. Solstice Nurseries is a social enterprise providing training and employment in horticulture to people with mental health difficulties. The decision to award the contract to Solstice Nurseries was made in recognition of social value generation and value for money in providing the service.

What did you do?

Grampian Housing Association created a procurement process which accounted for social value while still recognising the importance for value for money. An awards criteria was developed with 30% of tender weighting placed on price and the remaining 70% on quality. This ensured that delivery price of the contract would not outweigh the wider benefits created through provision of the service. Quality headings in the form of questions with corresponding weighted scores were provided to contractors to allow them to understand the priorities of Grampian Housing Association and plan their bids accordingly.

The quality criteria of the contract was based on the ability of bidding organisations to provide “quality of workmanship and service and community benefits, training and added value in terms of the Association’s wider role”. “Added Value” accounted for 30% of this quality criteria, with each contractor outlining:

• The number of new jobs that will be created through securing this contract

• The number of unemployed people who gain employment as a result of securing this contract

• The number of people completing recognised training, as a result of securing this contract (please state which course/ courses)

• The number of people completing programmes to help increase job related skills as a result

• What do you do to help sustainability, for example, in the sourcing of labour, materials, plants etc?

Although several bidders provided evidence of how they provided employment and training for disadvantaged groups (e.g. the long-term unemployed), the combination of value for money, quality and social value generated by Solstice Nurseries allowed them to win the contract. The contract was worth £100,000 and ran from 2006 to 2009.

What did you learn (things to avoid, things to do etc)

Development of an awards criteria with clear categories and weightings allowed contractors to understand the priorities of Grampian Housing Association and plan their bids accordingly.

How did this affect understanding and/or achievement of social value?

Solstice Nurseries is a social enterprise providing employment and training to people recovering from mental health problems. The workforce is provided with training and can work towards a Level 2 Amenity Horticulture qualification provided in partnership with Aberdeen College. Participants are referred from several organisations, with Aberdeenshire Council Employment Team responsible for around 50% of referrals.

Additional social value is created though integration into the local supply chain and increased social inclusion of participants through provision of a supportive work environment. An SROI report published in 2007 found that £2.93 of social value was generated for every £1 invested into Solstice Nurseries.

Links – URLs

Contact (email address etc)

Address: Drumduan Walled Garden South Deeside Road Aberdeenshire AB12 5YL

Phone: 44 1224 865907


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