Although it’s been more than a decade since the transformative Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force, there still exists a gap between the understanding of social value and its practical application.
This was the key finding revealed in our latest white paper, The True State of Social Value in Construction, which analysed responses from people representing a broad range of construction organisations to identify the current preconceptions and understanding of social value – and where improvements could be made.
To help us gather these insights, more than 100 construction professionals – 81% of which are senior management or C-Suite – shared their opinions on social value in the sector.
Overall, it’s clear the sector sees access to training and tools to aid accuracy of reporting as a clear path to improvement.
What were the key findings?
Explaining more about insights revealed in the white paper, our Director of Social Value, Angus Townsend, said: “It’s reassuring, especially against a backdrop of the ongoing climate and economic crisis, to see that people are certainly aware of the importance of social value and the part that construction has to play in benefiting its communities.
“Construction is certainly one of the more progressive when it comes to social value and understanding its important. The next part of the journey to really make a difference, however, is organisations needing to consider the impact of their projects from the very start, which can be complicated to get right. It’s not surprising that a majority of respondents (89%) thought that their organisation could do better – implementing any new strategy can take time and requires education and cultural shifts.
“Another positive finding was the fact that 86% of people agree that social value is relevant to procurement, hitting that mark of considering it early on, but only 69% say that it is currently embedded in their process. This highlights the differing maturity curves that have been showcased again and again in our survey, and the stark differences between knowing why it’s important, and being able to put it into practice.
“On the face of it, measuring and monitoring social value may seem overwhelming – both understanding how to do so and ensuring there’s enough capacity in teams.
“This is where monetising the impact using proxy financial values can make it seem more tangible and calculating it using specialist tools can help to remove any confusion, doing so with accuracy using quality metrics. Measuring social value means measuring the impact on real lives of real people, and that will never be a finite task, rather an ongoing exercise that will develop in maturity over time.
“Crucially, though, there’s a widespread acceptance within construction professionals across the board that social value is an important part of their role. One of the most heartening statistics from our analysis is the drive for continuous improvement – with the phrases ‘improve’, ‘improvement’, ‘do better’ and ‘do more’ being the most commonly used within responses. The key now will be in taking the right steps to realise its future potential.”
Download the full white paper for more in-depth insights.