Delivering social value through procurement

Last year we added social value requirements to all our assets procurement exercises, ensuring that support for local communities goes beyond just new homes and instead brings tangible improvements to people’s lives.

For us, building great places to live is more than just bricks and mortar. Each year we show how we are hitting our environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets by publishing our ESG report. To help us do this, we now have a number of contractors we partner with who deliver social value in our communities.

By making social value part of the tender process - asking companies who want to work with us at tender stage how they will add value in our communities - we’ve secured several initiatives for our residents and their families.

We worked with colleagues across the organisation, the group of housing associations who make up the G15, various contractors and resident groups to develop a selection of social value outputs that range from employment and skills opportunities to donations of time and materials for community projects to benefit our residents and communities.

These outputs are intentionally flexible to allow for different contractors to offer opportunities that align with their purpose, while ensuring we offer a wide range of different benefits for our residents.

Currently, we’ve agreed a social value plan with the contractors we use for our planned investment work, those who carry out kitchen and bathroom replacements, repairs to flooring, walls and outside woodwork like windows, doors and roofs. Using the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) model, as well as a few estimates, we have calculated that the social value due to be delivered by this plan represents around £2m of investment for our residents and communities.

We have another 14 contracts which have either recently commenced or will start shortly, which also include these commitments.

Our procurement team are now looking to build on this work and embed social value outputs into all major procurements. They’ve recently published our responsible procurement charter, a new document to publicly guarantee our commitments to governing and monitoring responsible procurement. It outlines to the public and our supply chain the minimum sustainability activities we include in our tenders, and the longer-term ambitions and goals they will be charged with contributing to while working with us.

All of the contractors that have committed to social value initiatives meet with our tenancy sustainment and partnerships manager on a regular basis to check they are delivering on the promises they made when we signed contracts with them.

What happened so far…

Employment and skills opportunities

Our tenancy sustainment team are focused on connecting employment opportunities offered by our contractors to our residents. They’ve started building a job seekers list, mainly made up of younger tenants looking for apprenticeship opportunities. They can then match contractors who are offering job opportunities, to people in our communities.

Our suppliers have also been attending careers events, such as the G15 apprenticeship event, and holding a number of different careers webinars. So far since April, two residents have been offered full time roles and another is in the running to secure an apprenticeship:

  • One of our Brent residents who attended the G15 apprenticeship event has secured a job as an assistant resident liaison officer with R Bensons and has successfully passed her probation period. R Bensons are now working with our tenant to provide on-the-job, accredited customer service training to help develop her skills further.
  • A 17-year-old resident who attended a careers webinar was able to be matched to opportunities with Axis Europe. She interviewed for an apprenticeship position, and we’re pleased to report she has been successful and will be starting her new career shortly.
  • Our tenant completed three days of work experience with Pilon, and we’ve submitted his CV for a plumbing apprenticeship available with another contractor.
  • Accredited construction training is bring provided to residents by Equans in Lambet

Other areas we’ve added social value

  • Two cohorts of 24 children have been sponsored for one year of English and maths tutoring at Virginia Quays, Tower Hamlets
  • We are planning a fundraiser with Equans in the autumn with a fundraising target of £20k.
  • We’ve arranged a ‘skip day’ at our Factory Quarter estate, where residents can use a skip for free to dispose of items they no longer want. We hope to expand this out to other areas and estates, hopefully helping to reduce fly tipping in our communities.

The tenancy sustainment team have also been working with local officers to start a list of ad hoc requests for help with painting and decorating or gardening for elderly and disabled residents, along with requests for art or gardening projects in communities. We also have plans to supply tech to some of our care and support residents to help them access the internet.

Future plans

All of the contractors supporting this social value work are offering volunteers and materials that we could potentially use for communal gardening projects or updating community spaces. We’ve asked our operational teams to tell us about ideas for their communities.

There’s even more we hope to do, like offering wellbeing activities or things like tech support sessions for digitally excluded people. Again, we’re working with local officers to see where we can add the most value.