New social value framework launched to enable better HE procurement

Drawn up by a consortium of HE institutions and Social Value Portal, the guidance is designed to improve universities’ support of local economies, communities, and the environment

New guidance has been launched to help higher education bodies factor wider social value into their procurement process.

The framework was organised by Social Value Portal (SVP), a company pledged to help customers deliver £100 billion of support to their respective local economies and communities by 2025.

Initiatives might include such steps as helping people into employment, using local suppliers, actively promoting opportunities for disadvantaged groups, or making sure that organisations are operating in as sustainable a way as possible.

The social value act received royal assent a decade ago and procurement teams across the board are now expected to make their spending power go further, but this can be a challenge,” said Guy Battle, CEO, SVP.

“Successful implementation requires a consistent procurement strategy that reflects the organisation’s social value objectives.

“The HE guidance is therefore designed to enable procurers and suppliers to select applicable measures without too much variance, thus avoiding over-complicating the procurement process for either party.”

With UK government spending on higher or tertiary education standing at £4.86 billion in 2020/2021, SVP calculates that a 20% value add across the sector would represent around £972 million of social value to help improve community welfare.

Using the framework not only gives us a benchmark to evaluate our effectiveness, it also enables us to report back on the social value that we have generated – Charlotte Hardman, University of Manchester

The new guidance was drawn up in collaboration with a universities and procurement consortium, who formed a 17-strong taskforce last year 2021 to fashion a straightforward, robust and measurable framework for the HE sector.

“We have spoken to many suppliers who have found that they are increasingly being expected to demonstrate a coherent social value offer or risk losing out on commercial opportunities,” added Battle.

“This new guidance and measurement framework tailored for the HE sector will streamline the process for procurers and suppliers alike.”

The SVP was already widely in use in such public sector areas as the NHS and local government when the University of Manchester became the UK’s first HE institution to adopt it in 2020.

“Like a lot of HE establishments, we were aware that we were delivering social value in our local community – particularly through procurement – but we were also aware that our activities weren’t being captured effectively, or reported in a way that communicated anything meaningful to stakeholders,” recalled Charlotte Hardman, the university’s procurement officer.

The new guidance uses the familiar national TOMs framework (themes, outcomes and measurements) as the reporting standard for measuring social value.

“Using the higher education TOMs measurement framework not only gives us a benchmark to evaluate our effectiveness, it also enables us to report back on the social value that we have generated, such as creating more than 200 local jobs through the building of our MECD campus, or working with a local supplier to tackle the problem of modern slavery and human trafficking in supply chains,” added Hardman.

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