Perspectives 2019

SPOTLIGHT ON Social value: a metric for success A t its broadest, social value can refer to the relative importance that people place on the changes they experience in their lives. The concept can cover everything from the value we experience in being part of a close community, to the boost in wellbeing that comes from living next to an open green space. The idea of social value was more clearly introduced at a policy level in the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which requires public authorities to have regard to social value in connection with public sector contracts. Following this, it is now not uncommon to see 10 per cent of evaluation criteria for public sector contracts focused on measures of social value, such as creating local jobs, improving the local environment and helping local community groups. Whilst the broad definition of social value makes it hard to articulate with precision, its adaptability does bring certain benefits. For example, social value goals can be tailored to address the different issues communities By Tim Johnson, Partner, Development and Planning In recent years, the potential effects of the built environment on people’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing have become more and more clear. As a result, demonstrating the social value created by real estate projects is now more important than ever. face, that stakeholders consider to be important. Understanding different local priorities to help shape investment decisions can boost social value and reduce project risk. Conversely, the costs of projects that are not perceived as meeting local needs can be significant in terms of both political capital and abortive tendering costs for potential private sector partners. Attending to considerations of social value at an early stage are therefore likely to bring the viability of a scheme into sharper focus, avoiding outcomes that are politically and financially undesirable. In the public sector, many local authorities are already setting out strategies to promote social value: for example, Liverpool City Region has announced that it is to incorporate an evaluation of social value in its emerging Spatial Development Strategy. Homes England and central government are also developing toolkits to measure and monetise the wider impacts of property schemes. Although this initiative is still evolving, it will exert a growing influence on decisions about the allocation of government funding to schemes. In the private sector, housebuilder Redrow’s Valuing Communities report of 2018 quantifies its contribution to social value by calculating the present value (discounted over a 25-year period) of green spaces, community facilities, and factors such as people’s perception of safety in its new developments. Similarly, developer U&I published PPP: The Reset, which reports the results of their stakeholder engagement on how to create public-private property partnerships that achieve both financial and social purpose. The impact of social value initiatives is also increasingly seen on the ground. The following schemes are examples of projects in which social value has been an integral part of the development proposition: from the economic, social and environmental rewards. PERSPECTIVES 24 SPOTLIGHT ON