Measuring social impact
What’s the issue being addressed?
The GB rail industry has robust means to measure the economic value of rail, however, social sustainability still relies largely on narrative explanations and limited metrics. While there has been much progress on understanding and targeting the social value of rail projects, the absence of a robust methodology and baseline to measure, monitor, and evaluate social impacts has resulted in inconsistencies across the industry and little trust in existing metrics.
How was this solved?
In order to effectively measure and compare the social value impacts of the Waterloo project, WCA used the CSIF and were one of the first to do so. Within the framework there are 10 different key social impact areas and a total of 41 different sub-impacts which are used to assign a monetary value to the social impacts of a project. The WCA used a scoring system to narrow down the impact areas used and to select the 5 areas of most relevance:
- Health and wellbeing
- Employment and skills
- Employee engagement
- Local and sustainable procurement
These impact areas split down into sub-impact areas with more detail on where social value can be delivered. An example of some of these sub-impacts can be seen in table 1 below and are part of a much wider report and process on all 5 of the chosen impact areas.
Once the 5 most relevant impact areas were identified, the data requirements were reviewed. Examples of the type of data required across the different impact areas included number of health checks, number of volunteering days, number of people satisfied with their job, number of buildings that are step free, and the percentage of suppliers with an ethical code of conduct. Values on the number of people who received accredited and non-accredited training were required for the ‘Employment and skills’ section. Below is an example of how these values were used within the tool to calculate the social value.
What were the outcomes?
The results from the CSIF calculations are being developed into a report which will be used to communicate the benefits of the project to a wider audience who may not have an advanced understanding of social value. Data from the CSIF can also be used to support investment decisions, contract management, procurement, risk management and much more.
Collecting data retrospectively proved difficult and it was therefore suggested that on future projects the CSIF should be used at the planning or design stage. It is important to note also that this was the first project to pilot the CSIF and therefore the figures are for the purpose of trialling the framework.
Customer driven, having a positive social impact, being transparent