Improving Social Value In The Construction Industry: IED & CECA NW Research Project Launched

The Institute of Economic Development (IED) is pioneering a major new piece of collaborative research to explore social value in construction.

Construction is under the spotlight given the critical role it is intended to play in the Industrial Strategy, and the Construction Sector Deal, an ambitious partnership between the industry and the government that aims to transform the sector’s productivity through innovative technologies and a more highly skilled workforce.

Now, together with CECA North West, Arup, Atkins, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Commonplace, and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the IED is seeking to gather insight on what social value (or related terminology such as social return, social responsibility and triple bottom line) is being delivered by construction and related businesses, and uncover the challenges to improving social value outcomes.

This study is intended to shed light on progress within the industry since the formation of the Social Value Act in 2013, which encourages contractors delivering works for commissioning authorities to deliver a range of additional outcomes as part of their contract which benefit society. In turn, this secures the best value from the public money being spent and more inclusive growth. Social outcomes can range from training and employing the long-term unemployed and people with convictions, to boosting local small, medium and micro businesses, reducing air pollution and improving green spaces in the local community.

Three parallel surveys – for Tier 1 and 2 companies; for Tier 3 and 4 suppliers including SMEs; and for IED members/other public sector to gather perspective of the ‘buyers’ (individuals working in regeneration and economic development, planning and procurement) – are now live until the end of April. The surveys explore issues such as understanding of social value; the key motivations for delivering social value; how construction businesses currently deliver social value, its monitoring and evaluation, and any related challenges; and the range of partners involved in social value delivery to assess the importance and effectiveness of the wider social value stakeholder community.

IED Chair Bev Hurley said: “Construction underpins our economy and society and we hope this research will give us a much clearer insight on the practice of social value in construction, and the opportunity to make recommendations on how it can be improved from all perspectives. Few sectors have such an impact on communities across the UK or have the same potential to provide large numbers of high-skilled, well-paid jobs. Achieving more social value contributes to more inclusive growth, a vital goal for the UK economy. We also want to capture and share best practice within a final report, which will be launched at a special conference in the Autumn, planned to coincide with a meeting of the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for Economic Development.”

You can read CECA’s own publication The social benefits of infrastructure investment here. If you are a CECA North West member and would like more information, contact CECA NW Director Guy Lawson.