Willmott Dixon has published Transforming Communities, a report setting out how public authorities and Registered Providers can leverage construction and housing repairs contracts to deliver additional social value to local communities.

The publication reflects new legislation that came into force on 31 January, requiring the public sector to consider as part of the tender process the potential for a delivery partner to provide economic, social and environmental benefits as part of any contracts they are entering into. The Public Services (Social Value) Act applies to most contracts and framework agreements.

Welcoming the new legislation, Mick Williamson, managing director of Willmott Dixon Partnerships says; “The Social Value Act gives public procurers real teeth when considering who to partner with; it will enable them to use the procurement process to select a partner who can add value by helping to address the wider needs of a local community.”

The report aims to guide clients on what is achievable on social value, and where they should be challenging their construction contractors. Mick continued, “We also think clients should measure contractors against the commitments they make in the tendering stage, and hold them to task.”

“This has always been our approach at Willmott Dixon as part of a process to establish meaningful, long-lasting relationships with clients. An example is in Birmingham, where we are responsible for the long-term repairs and maintenance of 60,000 properties for the council. As part of our commitment to the region – and indeed to our sector - we have invested £1 million in a skills academy that opened last week to train 2,000 people a year.

“Drawing on Willmott Dixon’s 160 years of community engagement, Transforming Communities captures what we have done and sets out a blueprint on how to maximise social value through public procurement. With the Act now in place, clients will more easily be able to hold contractors to account on commitments made in the tendering process, ensuring that these are translated into measurable social benefits on the ground.”

Mick concluded; “If clients are giving us certainty of spend over a 5-10 year contract; we should be looking to give more back to them. It enhances the standing and reputation of the business in the local area, and also leaves more of a legacy.

“While one company’s actions will not by themselves solve the challenge of creating skills, jobs and growth across the UK, we do believe that the public sector is not adequately leveraging its purchasing power to influence the collective role of the private sector in developing skills and supporting local growth. Transforming Communities demonstrates how private sector companies can still support local regions and communities across Britain no matter how hard they have felt the recession.

“We have plans to create more academies in other parts of the country and hope that by sharing ideas in Transforming Communities it will assist procurers and their service providers in their work to deliver sustainable growth to help communities through these current austere times.”