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Social Value Portal

Social Value in the supply chain: Essex County Council's new strategy

Essex County Council created a custom set of Measures from the Social Value TOM System™ and proceeded to create hundreds of jobs in local communities. 


In September 2020, Essex County Council decided to apply a new, Social Value-focused methodology for all procurements over £100,000 - the majority of their £1.2bn gross commissioned budget.

In less than 18 months, this new Social Value programme achieved a remarkable impact and the council's suppliers have made huge Social Value commitments.

How Essex boosted its Social Value strategy

Essex County Council was always compliant with Social Value legislation, but saw an opportunity to deliver greater benefit to communities by leveraging its £1.2 billion spend with suppliers.

To this end, the council adopted the Social Value TOM System™, and the Social Value Portal team created a set of Measures tailored to the Essex economy.

The council even put together a dedicated Social Value team, which had four key priorities:

  • Producing guidance and training for staff and suppliers
  • Publicly launching the Social Value programme
  • Implementing a reporting tool
  • Transforming the level of corporate ownership of Social Value

To ensure that all staff understood Social Value procedures, the team also produced webinars, presentations and updated guidance.

The council's focus on Social Value extended across the procurement cycle, with a dedicated Social Value lead supporting priority contracts both pre-tender and in contract management meetings, thus providing a forum for supplier and staff feedback.

Promoting Social Value education

Research showed that a lack of understanding is inhibiting progress on Social Value.

Essex County Council combatted this by creating a ‘too big to miss’ festival of learning, aiming to:

  • Clarify objectives and raise awareness of Social Value
  • Launch new guidance and case studies for suppliers
  • Demonstrate the council's commitment to Social Value
  • Establish the programme's credibility with high calibre keynote speakers and supplier experiences
  • Provide Social Value education for SMEs, charities, social enterprises, and social care and technology vendors

The festival was a great success, facilitating engagement with key internal and external anchor institutions, and helping the team form stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of the benefits of Social Value.

How Essex County Council tracked Social Value results

The council was aware that outcomes and impact is a major Social Value success factor.

To enable effective tracking, the council used Power BI to develop a dynamic Social Value reporting tool. This informs targeting-setting, and has enabled them to score bids relative to their Social Value target of 50p to every £1 spent.

All staff and management now have on demand access to Social Value reports - which feature all supplier offers available to the community, including schools, colleges, charities and community group.

The council's progress to date... 

The council is keen maintain momentum and keep building for the future, holding monthly meetings with its Sustainable Growth Directors to maintain alignment and support shared objectives.

But what has the Council's Social Value strategy achieved to date?  

As of April 2022, 98 suppliers across 17 contracts, with a combined value of £447 million, have committed to £42 million of Social Value in their winning bids.

In real terms, this equates to 981 jobs, including career opportunities for care leavers, the long term unemployed, those not in education, employment or training, young offenders undergoing rehabilitation, and people with disabilities.

The Social Value commitments of the council's suppliers also feature training opportunities, apprenticeships, expenditure with local SMEs, and savings in CO2 emissions.

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About Social Value Portal

Since 2017 Social Value Portal has been at the forefront of the Social Value movement. As creators of the endorsed Social Value TOM SystemTM, hosts of the annual Social Value Conference and founding members of the independent National Social Value Taskforce – they set industry standards and lead the business agenda.

Their unique mix of consultancy, cloud platform and programmes offer organisations the complete solution to accurately measure, manage and report Social Value – and create lasting impact.

In 2022, SVP achieved B Corp status, scoring above average in all assessed. The company’s aim is to promote better business and community wellbeing through the integration of Social Value into day-to-day business activity across all sectors.

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