A 4 year contract for the supply of civil engineering projects to the County 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 to support WCC’s area of focus: Open for Business as described in our Fit for the Future Corporate Plan 2011- 2016”. The question was included in the “Quality” section of the contract, and was given a weighting of 7%. Achievement of a suite of performance measures, including delivery of Positive Local Economic Impact, potentially earns providers extensions to the contract, which further incentivises delivery. The extensions are earned in 6-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
What did you learn (things to avoid, things to do etc)
This is the first time that economic value has been included in a Highways contract. We found this 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 “Including Positive Local Economic Impact in this tender was a first for us, so we found it challenging to consider. That said, bidders provided so many interesting ideas in their offers that we now feel we have a better understanding of the ways in which providers can add value above and beyond delivering the projects they are commissioned for.
The successful supplier clearly linked their answer back to the Corporate Plan, and described how they would make a difference to each of our seven Key Performance Indicators in the Open for Business theme. They included an Unemployment Utilisation Plan, to provide 27 employment opportunities over the life of the contract. These opportunities included 6 full time apprenticeships, and 4 enrolments to the Company’s Graduate Management Programme. The aim will be train all new employees to at least NVQ level 2. The supplier also detailed how they would develop links with local organisations (including local Job Clubs) to ensure recruitment reached our target groups, including NEET young people. The provider has developed “in house” Skills Academy Courses, and have sponsored young people through their studies as well as providing work experience opportunities and holiday employment opportunities for local students. This experience can be applied in Worcestershire. The suppliers propose to develop, with the County Council, a Business Support Network – Business Class, to offer business support to small and new local businesses by their Senior Management Team, and through monthly seminars. The supplier detailed existing links with local companies in their supply chain, and will seek to develop an approved Worcestershire based supply chain. The provider also explained how they had used a “Community Economic Footprint Tool”, to identify the percentage of an individual projects spend that will be spent within the local area (10 mile radius), within the County and the Country. Spend can also be broken down by sector. This tool potentially offers WCC a way of monitoring and evidencing positive economic impact. The supplier showed a clear understanding of how contract activity could potentially impact on local businesses and communities. Specific public liaison and community engagement staff are employed to mitigate this, and examples were provided of initiatives taken elsewhere to address local issues, e.g. increased footfall in local high streets, that can be applied to Worcestershire. The supplier also has an overarching “Sustainability Challenge” policy, which encompasses all four key areas of focus within WCC’s Corporate Plan. Steph Walton, Highways Procurement and Programme Manager.