Social value: boosting biodiversity in Sandwell

A wildflower meadow including purple, white and yellow flowers.When a local authority looks to award work, the ‘social value’ offered by the supplier must play a vital role in the final decision. Contractors must do more than just fulfil basic terms, they must also demonstrate that awarding them the work will secure additional benefits for the wider community.

This social value can be in the form of economic, social or environmental wellbeing and, at its heart, is about doing good, improving people’s lives and changing communities for the better. For Sandwell Council, commissioning, procurement and planning are all done with a focus on maximising the benefits for our residents, and a social value clause is written into all tenders and contracts.

A recent example of social value at its best is construction company VINCI. As a condition of its contract with the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, VINCI committed to working with pupils at Kings School in Wolverhampton, running an Environmental Awards Competition and Virtual Work Experience Day.

The event was live streamed to almost 200 students from years 11 and 13. VINCI team members explained the importance of biodiversity and challenged pupils to come up with ways of halting its decline. It was also a chance to promote diversity in the workplace and give the kids an insight into opportunities for women in construction, and what it’s like to work as an environmental and sustainability professional.

Karen Richards, Community Benefits and Social Value Impact Officer for Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “The reaction was superb. The winners of the Environmental Awards Competition will be able to see their ‘Biodiversity Legacy Project’ come to life with funding from VINCI.”

Carol Codner, Education and Enterprise Advisor for the West Midlands said: “The Careers and Enterprise Company were so happy with the results that it has been used to demonstrate best practice in employer/school engagement. We will be rolling out this exciting initiative across the schools in the Black Country and West Midlands to deliver a VINCI Biodiversity Legacy through the Enterprise Advisor network.”

The emphasis on social value has therefore not only enhanced the education of local children but also established a legacy project across the whole region and opened up young minds to potential career options they may not have previously considered. It also raised awareness of environmental concerns, laying the foundations for a cleaner, greener, more biodiverse Sandwell of the future.

This is just one way in which businesses hoping to win council contracts can add social value to their bids. To find out more, including how we can help your social value aspirations, visit our social value pages.