Pagabo News

Procurement Power to the People: Framework Providers must give back

09 June 2023

Businesses have a significant impact on the economy, society and the environment, meaning that focusing to ensure this impact is positive is central to many business strategies. Here, Jason Stapley, Chief Procurement Officer at Pagabo, discusses the unique position framework providers have when ‘giving back’ to society, driven by an outward-facing attitude and meaningful connections across the industry.

‘Giving back’ is a common phrase, but what does it mean in relation to businesses? In essence, it means demonstrating impact; however, ‘giving back’ also means evaluating and measuring that impact to truly demonstrate it in real terms.

Every business can demonstrate its positive impact, but truly integrating social value into business culture must be the priority, with the tools and methods available to make this process slicker.

Procurement providers, on the other hand, have a unique opportunity to contribute to broader society by addressing significant social and environmental challenges through extensive supplier networks and the onward supply chain.

While some money that goes back into the public sector is swallowed up by other services and priorities, our approach is one that is based on going above and beyond to make a tangible impact.


Generating social value

Construction has advanced its understanding of social value beyond the simple checkbox exercise of the past. And it still has a growing role in the procurement process, especially following the publication of the Construction Playbook.

Demonstrable value is crucial, and already plays a prominent role in the procurement function. Indeed, tender submissions for appointment to our frameworks are weighted to place a greater emphasis on the social value that potential suppliers generate – and the same is true for project tenders.

That is why, at Pagabo, we work with all 700+ organisations in our ecosystem to ensure social value is at the heart of their business culture and decision-making. We take pride in our ability to add and demonstrate real social value to the projects we work on. It’s at the heart of what we do, and we understand that it must be felt in the community where any project is taking place too.

In comparison to regional framework providers, our significant national reach and influence is something that makes us unique. We take this responsibility very seriously and are constantly reviewing ways to make positive impact more accessible and sophisticated.

We provide free access to social value software to our ecosystem members through our partner Loop, embedding targeted forecasting, measurement, and evaluation at every stage – for every project. And it’s also why we report on the social value enabled through our frameworks.

To date, the works procured through our frameworks have tangible and measurable social impact for communities, including safeguarding 25,114 jobs, creating 6,278 new jobs, 1,974 work placements and 1,652 apprenticeships.

As the industry and wider economy continues to deal with the long-term consequences of numerous global events in recent years, understanding the real-world impact of actions will be more important than ever. Every penny invested must have a tangible purpose.


Returning the value and seeing what good it does

Part of social value is what is returned to the local area in terms of monetary spend. Many businesses will do this through local supply chain spend or what has traditionally been called CSR, but procurement providers can set up agreements to funnel their profits back into good causes – and be able to ringfence these funds for specific use.

Pagabo has ongoing agreements for framework hosting and management under which a percentage of usage income is returned directly to the framework’s contracting authority. We expect to return more than £884,000 to our contracting authorities this fiscal year, increasing to more than £1 million next year.

This helps to fund these organisations, which support good causes, activities, and interventions in their local or national areas, allowing us to see the real-life tangible changes that this ‘giving back’ action has.

For example, The Education Alliance’s Be Well programme has been able to fund specialised support in primary and secondary schools, along with mental health support for nurses, thanks to rebate payments in the most recent full fiscal year (21/22).

Additionally, it has been able to provide energy efficiency upgrades across its estates, incorporate more sustainability into its curriculum, provide £20,000 to supplement free school meal vouchers, and fund a travel hardship fund to assist those on low income.

We know we haven’t just ‘given back’ with this rebate model. We have ensured that students from low-income families can get to school and eat, allowing them to focus on their studies and passions. We know that their parents will be less financially stressed as well, and that the larger school ecosystem will have the necessary support mechanisms for modern life, resulting in improved wellbeing for all.


Promoting better health and wellbeing in the industry

The well-known mental health problem in the construction industry is only getting worse. The most recent ONS data, there were 507 suicides in the industry in 2021, up 24 from the previous year and equating to two people per working day.

We used to say that male suicides in the industry were three times higher than the national average, but this new data shows that those working in the industry are now nearly four times more likely to take their own lives. These statistics show the gender split too, with four females among the 507 total – which is worryingly more than in previous year

This is a collective issue that requires a collective effort – both in construction and beyond. However, the extensive network of organisations that procurement providers work with allows them to amplify any impact they can have. For example, last year we committed to incorporating mental health safeguards into our procurement processes, so that the entire supply chain demonstrates how people will be cared for during projects.

Especially with different pressures and stresses affecting different parts of the supply chain at different points, incorporating mental health considerations into documentation and contracts will move mental health consideration beyond words and into action, tied up with accountability.

We also run the Pagabo Foundation, which has a board of representatives from across the sector who collaborate to raise awareness of services and fund training in the industry – making it easier for SMEs to be involved in make a difference.

Last year, the Foundation ran its first major event – the Feelgood Games – which raised more than £31,000. However, events are frequently run with a Three Peaks challenge, five-a-side football tournament and annual golf day raising £12,500 collectively within the past 12 months too.

By the end of 2023, 160 people are expected to have completed full mental health first aid training courses that have been directly funded by this fundraising effort. We also plan to lobby government and work on sector-entry training, making sure that everyone entering the industry receives specialised mental health training to support both themselves and those around them.


In a nutshell

Procurement providers like us are well-placed to unlock the collaboration opportunities that exist throughout the construction sector. If we pin it down to a single sentence, we can coordinate the whole industry to do things better, so we can collectively do better things.


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