A conference this Valentine’s Day will highlight how Manchester City Council is showing the love by putting the social benefits to the city at the heart of how it spends money on goods and services.
The Social Value 2020: People, Place and Planet event, hosted jointly with the Manchester-based Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) on 14 February, will showcase how concerted efforts over more than a decade to measure and increase this wider positive impact have made the Council an acknowledged national leader in social value.
Part of this is about making sure that as much as possible of the council’s spending is within Manchester and Greater Manchester – supporting local jobs and the wider economy.
Research to be presented by CLES at the event, which will take place at the Friends Meeting House on Mount Street, shows that last year (2018/19) Manchester City Council spent £461m with its top 300 suppliers. Some 70% of this was with Manchester-based organisations, compared with less than 52% in 2008/09 – pumping an extra £138 million into the Manchester economy.
And more than half of the council’s spending in 2018/19 (50.5%) was with small and medium-sized enterprises. The Council is actively trying to make contracts accessible to these smaller businesses, for example by breaking big contracts into smaller chunks and cutting red tape.
But the social value agenda isn’t just about where money is spent, it is also very much about creating jobs, apprenticeships, training and skills opportunities for residents – especially those facing the greatest obstacles at work –and supporting the voluntary and community sector.
Some 1,579 jobs and a further 561 apprenticeships were created in Manchester last year alone as a result of council spending with its top 300 suppliers. Between them the Council’s top 300 suppliers also provided almost 41,000 volunteering hours to good causes in Manchester.
It is estimated that the equivalent of £107m social value was generated by these suppliers on top of the money being spent by the council in the city.
When Manchester City Council evaluates bids to provide goods and services it already bases at least 20% of the score given to bidders on what added benefits to the community they can deliver, an often-decisive factor in who the contract is awarded. The Council is actively looking at how scoring can further take into account the efforts that contractors are making to reduce their carbon emissions, in line with the city’s ambitious goal to become zero carbon by 2038 or earlier.
Delegates from around the country will attend the Social Value 2020 event to hear about best practice and share ideas.
Councillor Carl Ollerhead, Executive Member for Finance, said: “Social value isn’t just a concept – it’s something which delivers real and lasting benefits to Manchester people.
“I’m proud to say that Manchester has taken giant strides in our quest to deliver the maximum social value from our spending in the last 12 years. Through concerted efforts, we’ve ensured that it isn’t an add-on, it’s right at the heart of our culture.
“It’s something I personally will continue to champion and we are determined to keep building on the progress we’ve made. Through innovations such as boosting the chances of environmentally-responsible companies of winning council contracts we are determined to keep driving this agenda forwards.”
Manchester City Council has been working with CLES since 2008 to analyse its annual procurement spend and put social value, alongside cost, at the core of its activities. For more information visit www.cles.org.uk
Neil McInroy, chief executive of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, said: “Manchester City Council have been trailblazers in pioneering progressive procurement. Working collaboratively with CLES, they have shown the way in advancing the procurement aspects of community wealth building. The learning from this work has inspired many other local councils, places and anchor institutions across the UK. In Manchester, the continued and deepening progressive actions and change are testament to a restlessness to continually improve which has been driven by political leadership, officer dedication and supplier support.”
CASE STUDY: The Our Town Hall project, Manchester Town Hall
The Our Town Hall project, which is safeguarding, repairing and partially restoring the iconic Grade I-listed building, is a huge once-in-a-generation heritage scheme.
It is also a flagship for the city’s commitment to social value which is intended to leave an enduring legacy in skills, job and inspiration as well as protecting the building for future generations while bringing it up to modern access, safety and energy efficiency standards.
Strict social value targets are built into the project’s goals to ensure benefits are maximised:
A minimum of 40% of the overall project spending to be within Manchester.
A minimum of 50% of the overall spend to be within Greater Manchester.
A minimum of 30% of workers employed to live in Manchester
45 new permanent jobs to be created.
50 new qualifications to be achieved by staff employed on the project including 20 new professional body memberships.
At least 10,000 volunteering hours with the community and voluntary sector to be undertaken
Working with at least 1,500 students in higher education to support with employment, skills or subject/research work.
For example, the construction phase – which is worth around £170m – will generate an estimated extra £9m-worth of social value through jobs, training, learning, mentoring and volunteering opportunities delivered by management contractor Lendlease and sub-contractors.
The construction programme has been broken up into around 150 individual work packages – more than triple the number of work packages you would expect on project of this value. That’s so smaller companies are able to take part in the project and it can help develop their business.
The vast majority of these benefits will be realised between 2020 and 2022 but a strong start has already been made.
As of summer 2019, 57% of project spending had been with Manchester-based companies and 68% within Greater Manchester.
Six apprentices are completing two years on the M-Futures higher level apprenticeship scheme giving them the chance to gain experience on the job in a broad range of professional construction roles on major projects in the city, including the Our Town Hall project. Seven more started in September 2019 and a range of apprenticeships and job opportunities will be created through the ‘construction’ phase of the project.
CASE STUDY: Abdul Tahir, M-Futures apprentice
Abdul Tahir, aged 20, from Whalley Range admits that he had never seriously considered a career in the construction industry.
But when he finished his A Levels and was considering his next steps, the opportunity offered by a higher level apprenticeship on the Our Town Hall project to gain hands on experience rather than sitting in lecture halls proved enticing – especially as its unique structure, involving rotating placements with different project partners, provides an insight into different aspects of the industry.
“One of the best things about M-Futures is that you can see the project from every perspective,” he said. “By experiencing all the elements of the Our Town Hall project, I can work out which is the best path for me to follow.”
It’s an opportunity he has clearly seized with both hands, to the extent that he won last year’s Steve Burne Apprentice of the Year Award, presented as part of the Greater Manchester Building of the Year awards at the Museum of Science and Industry.
“I would definitely recommend this apprenticeship to anyone who is willing to put the effort in,” he said. “It’s not the easy option but it definitely leads to better options.”
As he nears the end of his apprenticeship term in August, Abdul is well placed to continue in a permanent job in the construction industry and hopes to specialise in the project management side.