Cabinet Portfolio: Leader
Strategic Directorate: Chief Executive
Consideration was given to a report that was submitted for pre-decision scrutiny ahead of the Cabinet Meeting to be held on 28 March 2022. This was the second annual report to be submitted since adoption of the Social Value Policy in 2019.
The aim of the Social Value Policy was to maximise the local impact of the Council’s spend:
· Raising the living standards of Rotherham residents and commitment to working towards the Living Wage Foundation Living Wage.
· Increasing the proportion of the Council’s expenditure which went to local businesses and providers.
· Building social value into all council contracts and maximise the impact gained from every pound spent, through the introduction of a rigorous system for assessing and measuring social value.
· Commit to the principle of co-designing services wherever possible.
The report outlined that the Council had either achieved or made progress against the commitments agreed in February 2021. These included:
· The Social Value Commissioning Toolkit was in the final stages of development and about to be rolled out.
· Accreditation as a “Living Wage Employer” was awarded in September.
· Anchor networks development was underway with key partners building on the commitments from the partnership Social Value Charter.
· The Council was positively engaged in the development of social value policy and practice in the Mayoral Combined Authority (MCA).
· A workshop was held to explore further community wealth building opportunities.
· An event has been held to engage with suppliers. This provided real examples of good practice in social value. The event will be repeated on an annual basis.
The Leader of the Council introduced the report with contributions from the Chief Executive and officers. It was outlined that this was the second full year of the commitment with significant progress being made. It was noted that the benefits of this policy may take some time to be realised as changes may occur over the course of contracts. The Leader put on record the achievement of “real living wage” accreditation and noted that over 3000 people in Rotherham had directly benefited from this status.
The contribution of the Rotherham Together Partnership to this agenda was ongoing but progress had been hampered by the pandemic. The Leader drew attention to positive developments with the MCA with regards to procurement and business grants which supported social value principles and net zero commitments.
The Chief Executive and Leader noted the contribution of the Head of Procurement to this agenda and her work with both local and national partners in developing the Council’s approach, including the Social Value Portal.
Since the last annual report, commitment has been secured from local businesses, taking the principles of social value into their organisations. Consideration has been given to how the Council commissions its services and contractual arrangements. Work was also underway the MCA across the sub-region to ensure that a joint approach underpinned commissioning and procurement activities. Work has been undertaken to identify community wealth opportunities to identify with business where there were gaps in types of organisations, products or services. Audits had evidenced that a greater number of contracts were being procured locally.
Further information was provided on the impact of the policy, which included greater numbers of people in employment and apprenticeships. It was noted that the high-level figures did not reflect fully the positive changes made as a result of the policy. This would be addressed in future annual reports.
Over the next twelve the Council would remain fully committed to this agenda and work closely with anchor institutions such as South Yorkshire Police, colleges and the hospital to ensure that a similar approach was taken to maximising local spend and opportunities.
Clarification was sought on how the achievements compared with the original aims of the policy, and how benefits to Rotherham residents was demonstrated. The roll out of the real living wage and number of people accessing employment or training opportunities from local contracts was cited as key performance indicators.
The Council’s work with contractors and sub-contractors in achieving real living wage status was supported as were initiatives to engage business. Details were sought of how the Council could influence those local business who it did not contract with. It was explained that events had been organised with local business champions and peer networks showcasing good working standards and practices and the benefits for their business and the wider community. A further question was asked about the influence the Council had with non-local contractors. It was outlined that the expectation that national providers would comply with social value principles was the same as local businesses. The Council and its partners proactively shared information with local businesses about contracts and commissioning to build economies of scale or create opportunities for diversification.
It was noted that many contracts were borough wide, however, it was also noted that some contracts would be based in specific localities. It was asked if certain areas in greater need were targeted for initiatives which could increase social value. It was noted that particularly with locality-based contracts, businesses had explored how they could add social value locally, particularly in the area of jobs and skills and engaging with the voluntary and community sector.
The non-contractual contributions of businesses to local communities was cited, with a question asked how social responsibility and social capital could be captured. It was noted that the social value policy had clear targets to deliver wider benefits through its contractual and commissioning arrangements.
It was noted that key performance data was only available for part year and a request was made for updates to be provided to the committee. It was confirmed that this was available as data was captured on a quarterly basis.
Information was sought if there had been a change in the numbers and types of businesses seeking contracts and was there evidence of a change in approach in respect of national businesses. With some national providers, it was noted that discussions had taken place to ensure that there was a local social value benefit specific to Rotherham (e.g. apprenticeships or skills training). Early market engagements was also taking place to ensure that businesses understood social value prior to bid submission and were better placed to meet requirements.
It was clarified that the Council was not paying more for contracts through its commitment to social value objectives, rather that it was an expectation on business to engage with this agenda as part of their contractual arrangements. Acknowledging the Leader’s opening statement, it was noted that the outcomes from the adoption of a social value policy may take some time to realise and asked that further work be undertaken to demonstrate the benefits.
1. That Cabinet be advised that the recommendations be supported.
2. That consideration be given to how the impact of the Social Value strategy is demonstrated in future annual reports.
3. That consideration is given to how businesses and voluntary/community organisations’ contribution to ‘social responsibility’ is captured.
4. That a further report is submitted to OSMB in six months outlining mid-year position.