Toolkit measures social value's bottom-line impact

15 November 2017

A toolkit has been launched to help public sector buyers put a number on the social value they gain through contracts. 

The National TOMs Framework – which stands for themes, outcomes and measures – aims to provide a minimum reporting standard to help buyers measure and justify the pursuit of social value outcomes in their contracts.

Agnese Mizia, head of research at the Social Value Portal and one of the framework’s architects, said the tool was an opportunity to “create a standard way of measuring and monetising social value”.

Speaking at the National Social Value Conference in Birmingham yesterday, where the toolkit was launched, Mizia said: “Having a standard measurement framework allows organisations to compare their performance by sector and by industry benchmarks.” 

She added: “The other thing it provides is a robust, transparent and defensible solution for assessing and awarding tenders, which is especially important for the public sector.”

Since the Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force in 2013, commissioners of public services have been obliged to think about how they can secure wider social benefits from their contracts. However a poor understanding of what social value outcomes are and how they can be measured has limited the impact of the act.

The TOMs framework, which was developed over 18 months in consultation with more than 40 public and private sector organisations, is formed of five key social value themes: local jobs and skills, the growth of local businesses, community benefits, environmental protection and innovation.

These themes are then expanded into 35 outcomes that are “practical and deliverable things that all organisations across sectors and across industries can relate to and think about delivering on any kind of project,” said Mizia.

Examples of these outcomes include “crime is reduced” and “more opportunities for SMEs”. 

These outcomes work with a set of financial proxies that, through a free spreadsheet tool, can be used to put a financial value on the social value being delivered in a project.

The tool allows users to take into account local factors and multiplier effects to make proxies more appropriate, while keeping the statistics comparable across bodies. 

The framework will be regularly reviewed to ensure the proxy values used are accurate.

The National TOMs Framework and spreadsheet tool is free to download from the Social Value Portal website

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