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New social value framework will deliver greater benefits for local businesses and community groups

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, has approved the creation of a social value framework (SVF), which will increase the benefits local voluntary and community groups, residents and businesses receive from future services commissioned by the council.

Currently, 47% of council contracts have delivered additional community benefits, such as employment opportunities. The new framework aims to build on this and also ensure that local residents, voluntary and community groups have a greater role in developing new or existing services.

Work is progressing on a number of pilots it has run to assess what community benefits are of most value when commissioning and contracting services.

This has included the innovative Social Value Exchange – an online marketplace where resources are channelled into solving local problems. The Exchange was created in partnership with Tower Hamlets based company Firesouls in March this year. With each main contract posted to the site, the Exchange matches the resources of suppliers to requirements alongside assessing their bids for how they can help meet the needs of community organisations and projects.

For the pilot, the council worked with Tower Hamlets Homes, East London Business Alliance, Tower Hamlets Council for Voluntary Service and others to secure employment, apprenticeship and work experience opportunities for residents, alongside ICT office equipment and a special ‘meet the buyer’ event to support small businesses. Organisations that benefited were Toynbee Hall, Spitalfields City Farm and Providence Row housing charity who provided input and local knowledge of what would help them.

The social value element is up to 5% of the overall contracts.  With final confirmation of successful contract bids to be announced, suppliers offered between £29,000 and £81,000 of social value benefits as part of their bids, exceeding the initial target of £28,000.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said:

“We have always sought to ensure that local people get the best out of the services we contract and commission.  This new framework delivers a greater active input from the start from our community groups. As a council, we want to work with these groups, to deliver more jobs and greater benefits for local businesses and community organisations.”

Councillor Candida Ronald, Cabinet Member for Resources and the Voluntary Sector said:

“The results from the pilots so far have been positive and demonstrate the real potential to establish a system in which everyone, including the community as a whole, has the opportunity to achieve real benefits.  I look forward to seeing the framework further develop and it will play a major role in the council’s commitments to creating new jobs and supporting our voluntary and community sector.”