NEWS / Blog / ‘Social Value is a verb’ - ACE’s Social Value exploration


19 JUL 2023


ACE members and clients are providing insight on social value in line with our blueprint ambitions.

In line with our blueprint ambitions to ‘create a common language and approach to delivering social value across the sector which understands and meets the needs of communities’, ACE members and clients such as National Highways, Derby City Council, Transport for Wales, Lincolnshire County Council, Transport Scotland, HS2, Network Rail and Natural England have, through a series of workshops, provided some exciting insight on the subject.  

Conversations so far have focused on the following questions; 

Why are we measuring social value? 

What are we measuring in terms of social value? 

How are we measuring social value? 

How long are we measuring social value for? 

And how are we monitoring the progress of the above? 

This has also proved a valuable forum of discussion of best practice in social value between members and clients – where expertise and insight can be shared to produce better quality and more focused outcomes that are of value to the communities we are building for.

The series of workshops and conversations has also developed new working relationships both with ACE, members and stakeholders that previously did not exist. This steering group will be an ongoing and continually improving development and would encourage you to get in touch if you’re interested in joining these conversations. 

Of the plethora of issues discussed, it's interesting to hear some examples of best practice in social value at all scales of projects. It can range from donating some no longer used laptops from the office to a local school, through to supporting a local business when buying catering at a project site.

Key to developing an impactful social value legacy is for project commissioners and funders to be granular and specific in identifying the communities a project serves, and in signposting their needs and requirements. This new working relationship is of massive positive benefit to all concerned.

ACE really value hearing about these case studies and we’d love to promote them in our media and advocacy work – highlighting the great work our sector does. 

Another key takeaway so far has been the impact of project legacy. Traditional approaches to social value have led to limited scope when considering the medium- and long-term impacts of a project or piece of infrastructure.

A more holistic view, encompassing the lifecycle of the fabric of the project and beyond, can help future owners and stakeholders in maintaining the positive social impact legacy of our work in the present.

Capturing this in a strategic handover that is passed on to the next custodians or owners in the chain was discussed as the best way to embed Social Value for the future.  

Our steering group next meets in September, where we’ll be discussing the next steps in setting out how the professional services sector can champion and lead the conversation in Social Value.  

Andrew Gladstone-Heighton

Andrew Gladstone-Heighton

Policy Manager