Durham County Council supplier Taylor Shaw provides ‘fun to cook’ sessions as part of its school meals contract © Taylor Shaw
Durham County Council supplier Taylor Shaw provides ‘fun to cook’ sessions as part of its school meals contract © Taylor Shaw

Durham County Council's social value contracts

Durham County Council aims to work social value into as many contracts as possible.

“Why not try to get the best environmental, economic and social outcomes out of every £1 we spend? It’s absolutely necessary in my region and I’m pretty certain it’s the same everywhere else,” says Darren Knowd, CPO at Durham County Council.

He believes authorities should aim for around a 20% weighting for social value in tenders. His council has gone beyond the scope of the Public Services (Social Value) Act by applying it to contracts below the threshold and beyond services deals.

Durham has achieved social return on investment with various suppliers:

  • A primary school meals contract with Taylor Shaw for 280 schools contains a £150,000 Improvement Fund that provides £250 matched funding per event to educate young people about nutrition. Activities include ‘fun to cook’ sessions for the children and parents, ‘smoothie bike’ rides (where cycling a static bike powers a smoothie maker) and parent ‘meal taster’ activities to boost take-up of primary school meals.
  • A banking services contract with Lloyds includes a commitment to give pupils the knowledge and life skills to manage their money.
  • As part of its mobile telephone deal, Vodafone has committed to provide 200 hours of community support. Other suppliers such as Brakes, Xerox, Konica Minolta and Lloyds donated to local food banks at Christmas.
  • A local construction supplier, Esh Group, is working with local education providers on a ‘Building My Skills’ programme to equip young people to find jobs. The scheme will ultimately work with 800 students and provide 4,000 student hours in the 2018/19 academic year, with more than 200 mock interviews.In all, 55% of Durham’s total annual procurement spend is with SMEs, 64% is within the North East, 45% is within the county and 13% is spent with the third sector. “All of this has a big impact on our local economy, creating numerous new jobs, training opportunities and apprenticeships,” says Knowd.

Read more: Caring or cost - the price of social value

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