A 4 year contract to be the sole supplier of professional services expertise relating to highways and transport (e.g. highway and transport design, transport modelling, feasibility studies etc.) to West Midlands Highway Alliance members (comprising Worcestershire County Council, Telford and Wrekin Council and potentially from 2014 Shropshire Council). There is an option to extend the contract for a further 2 years, linked to performance.
What did you do?
Suppliers were asked to: “Describe what arrangements you have in place or will put in place to deliver a positive impact on the local economy, social and environmental well-being to support The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, WCC’s area of focus: Open for Business as described in our Fit for the Future Corporate Plan 2011-2016, and Telford and Wrekin Councils Medium term Plan 2012/13 to 2014/15.” The question of social value was included in the “Quality” section of the contract, and was given a weighting of 6%. Suppliers had to obtain 70% of the available score for each quality question. The successful supplier produced a 15 point statement of commitment to Social Value. Commitments included offering 16 new apprenticeships to local people over the full potential term of the contract, offering 16 internships or work placements to local unemployed people over the full potential term of the contract, and offering 24 school work experience placements over the full potential term of the contract. The provider will establish a virtual West Midlands Learning Hub to provide a centre for joint learning and development, and promote vocations by attending schools careers days and offer one careers day per council per year. The provider will fund 48 days of staff volunteer time over the full potential term of the contract for community support activities, and draw on their network of staff involved in local environmental groups and provide people and /or funds to support local environmental awareness / enhancement. They also committed to maximising supply chain opportunities for local SMEs, Third Sector organisations, and social enterprises with a target of increasing this from 21% to 30% of the supply chain within the county boundary, and to complete services using local staff wherever possible The provider will also design for social value and sustainability outcomes in each project. They will measure their community footprint and maintain a social value register to demonstrate success. The commitments in the tender will be translated into a Social Value Plan and associated Social Value Method Statement, and are included in the contract monitoring arrangements. Achievement of a suite of performance measures, including delivery of the Social Value plan, potentially earns providers extensions to the contract, which further incentivises delivery. The extensions are earned in 3-month blocks and released through the term of the contract, giving both the provider and WCC certainty of the end date and ensuring high performance standards throughout the life of the contract. The Social Value Plan has a weighting of 10% in the performance suite, ensuring it is not an area which can be neglected.
What did you learn (things to avoid, things to do etc)
This is the first time that the Social Value Act has been specifically referenced in a BEC contract (we had previously explored Positive Local Economic Impact). We found this very easy to include and straightforward to evaluate. We would support the approach of asking an open question. The detail received from many of the tenders was impressive, and provides a solid basis for measuring positive impact over the life of the contract. The successful tender clearly demonstrated how social, economic and environmental outcomes would be sought, measured and evidenced as an integral part of contract delivery. “We hoped bidders would be able to think creatively about how to support the Council’s obligations under the Social Value Act but with sparse benchmarking information available at this early stage of the Act’s life, an open question seemed our best option. Without exception, bidders found many creative ways to deliver Social Value. The winning provider has made extremely positive commitments, including a Social Value Champion who will raise the profile and maintain momentum throughout the contract. When we first considered how to explore Social Value in this tender, there was a certain apprehension about how we would include and evaluate it. By including it in our quality assessment, we found it easy to evaluate and compare offers, but also have gained huge satisfaction in knowing that we’ve let a contract which will deliver more than just the Services required.” Steph Walton, Highways Procurement and Programme Manager.