Social value is at the heart of ICN

July 8th, 2020

Great Places Social Value Specialist, Stephanie Cameron shares her insights on the development of an approach that put social value at the heart of the new £750m Innovation Chain North (ICN) framework.

As the Social Value Specialist at Great Places, I’ve had the privilege of working with stakeholders to shape the social value criteria for the renewed Innovation Chain North (ICN) framework.

What has been achieved feels special. It has provided the chance to bring significant opportunities and community prosperity to our neighbourhoods, as we play our part in tackling the housing crisis over the next four years.

In this blog I will explain why we took the approach we did, and how this aims to make a difference to the communities we are working with.

The potential spend across the framework of £750m is no small change. In addition, when that level of spend reaches across the North, getting the social value commitment right is essential.

As with most successful projects, seeking feedback from clients, contractors, customers and internal colleagues was a crucial starting point. It provided a baseline for expectations, ambitions and barriers. I’d particularly like to express my thanks to the Greater Manchester Housing Providers Social Value Group for their time and thoughts on this matter that helped to inform the approach we looked to take.

It became clear that Great Places and potential ICN clients wanted something flexible and tangible, which aligned with their own company values. Additionally, contractors wanted to share our vision of delivering social value whilst leaving freedom to innovate solutions.

Thus the ICN ‘Social Value Pledge’ was born. A commitment made at tender stage that can be tailored to the size, location and priorities of each contract. Contractors and Consultants chose a combination of achievable ‘Actions’ that they will commit to deliver at specified value thresholds. The Pledge embraced choice and creativity, so areas of strength could be maximised to deliver outcomes that suit their own CSR culture. It also looked to ensure that pledges considered the wider regeneration aims for individual Local Authority and Housing Providers, without being prescriptive.

As a result of this process, Contractors agreed to contribute an average of 9.5% and Consultants 16% of added value to the economy.

Furthermore, 93% of Partners are also prepared to host Work Placements – around 9 weeks per £1m spend. As these Pledges turn into outcomes, the ICN framework will be able to demonstrate a noteworthy contribution to the Government’s Industrial and Careers strategies. This collaborative approach will provide young people and unemployed adults with experience in Architecture, Engineering, Modular Build and other consultancy services. Employment opportunities will also be created in the construction industry, with over 50% of jobs ring-fenced to disadvantaged candidates.

Generous contributions in time and resources have also been pledged, to support community initiatives, homelessness projects and digital inclusion. There was also interest from 72% of suppliers to provide expert guidance to SME’s and voluntary, community and social enterprises, as well as commitments to spend responsibly, promoting local economic growth.

Social Value is about doing the right thing for society and the environment. For me, it revives the belief and imagination that we can change the world, making a real difference in the neighbourhoods we are working in. I’m proud to say that all 113 organisations joining the ICN framework have clearly demonstrated they are on the social value journey with us.

I’d like to give thanks to Great Places Community Investment team for their expert insight. I am also grateful for the Development team’s buy-in to do something different, ensuring ‘Innovation’ was a true element of ICN. Sincere thanks also to the Procurement team for their support and guidance throughout this process, keeping everything on track and making sure the social value aspect remained compliant.

Finally, a big thank you all the bidders who took the time to complete the Social Value Pledge. Their carefully considered submissions will enable ICN users to articulate at the outset what can be achieved on a site-by-site basis. In partnership, a huge difference can be made to the customers and communities across the North.