Media centre

'Social Value' key to delivering UK's infrastructure and housing needs

Mace, one of the UK’s leading construction companies, has called for ‘social value’ measures and targets to be formally embedded in all major construction and infrastructure programmes in the UK. 

The call to action is one of the conclusions of a new report, ‘Social Value in Construction: underpinning our future legacy’, which Mace has published today. The 2012 Social Value Act already places a similar requirement on public sector contracts above a certain size – but Mace’s report argues that UK private and public sector bodies need to go further to embed social value in projects of all sizes.

Drawing on Mace’s experience delivering large scale programmes globally and across the UK, the report suggests that three of the major challenges faced by the construction sector – productivity, diversity and access to skills – could be mitigated by prioritising the delivery of social value on major programmes. 

The report calls for the adoption of five new measures: 

Defining specifically what social value means for the construction sector and linking key outcome measures against the objectives of the Government’s Industrial Strategy; 

Developing social value measures that are relevant and are linked to community needs;

Social value to be embedded formally in all major projects; 

An industry-wide programme for incorporating social value; and, 

Leverage social value to support new skills development and improved productivity. 

Jason Millett, Mace’s COO for Consultancy, said: 

“Such is the scale of challenges facing the construction sector, it is clear we need a fundamental rethink in how we operate. Embedding social value all of the way through the project lifecycle – rather than a stand-alone exercise or a box ticking exercise to meet procurement guidelines – is the first step in responding to a collective problem.

“The construction sector has a reputation for being slow to adopt new ideas and playing catch up with other sectors which are seen as more in touch with today’s society. With increased economic uncertainty and mounting challenges around productivity and skills, it is clear that this needs to change – and in order for that to happen the concept of social value needs to be built into all of our projects and programmes.” 

James Merrett, Mace’s Head of Advisory, said:

“At the moment the construction sector has the tendency to approach social value as marginal activity rather than core to its delivery process. We are making progress but more needs to be done to adopt a collective approach to community engagement and outcomes that better aligns with the government’s emerging industrial strategy. At the moment there is limited shared agreement about how to get the most social value out of a project. 

“Social value can no longer be a ‘nice to have’ – we need to completely alter our approach if the industry is going to overcome its issues around diversity, productivity and skills. Otherwise we will face real difficulty in successfully delivering the UK’s ambitious infrastructure and construction pipeline.” 

 The full report can be found on Mace's website here