Changes have been made to the UK’s most widely used social value calculator with the aim of simplifying the process of engaging with and measuring social value for both procurement bodies and bidding organisations, in turn making the process more accessible to SMEs.
What is TOMs?
The National TOMs – Themes, Outcomes and Measures – is a framework for delivering excellence in measuring and reporting social value. Through TOMs, we can quantify the benefit of activities, projects, or initiatives to communities. A set of five themes define the areas for potential growth and improvement, which include:
You may already be confident that your organisation is delivering social value across all themes, and fully accustomed to using the National TOMs social value framework. However, like many newcomers to social value, you may feel unprepared or unable to fully engage with the specific process of making commitments and measuring impact via the TOMs portal or associated calculators. Whichever category you and your organisation fall into, the NT2022 updates are designed to make the process more simple, streamlined, and targeted.
The update to TOMs
To represent what is relevant, and in response to evolving social value needs, the National TOMs framework has been updated and improved to be simpler, clearer, and more straightforward to use. The updates fall broadly into four categories.
National TOMs simplification
Three newly created ready-made measure sets have been added to NT2022, each with a distinct purpose and target audience.
Light – a smaller set of 18 measures, curated for newcomers and new entrants to the social value space as well as smaller contracts. It consists of 18 carefully selected measures allowing for a concise evaluation of the committed or delivered social value.
Core – the standard 40 measures designed to be sufficient for most standard procurement applications, representing the preferred solution for the majority of users and their requirements. It consists of 40 measures covering a broad range of themes and outcomes, allowing for a comprehensive evaluation of the delivered or committed social value.
Non-core measures – 280 additional measures, including the plug-ins for real estate, facilities management and higher education, as well as all non-financial measures (previously designated as record only) Whilst the non-financial measures do not have a proxy value against them, they still help to add qualitative value to the initiatives and actions undertaken.
Following feedback from framework suppliers across a broad range of industries, and taking into consideration the latest ONS data, a complete overhaul of the environmental theme has been undertaken to ensure ongoing relevance. It is increasingly important that we all engage in tackling climate change, and through the revised environmental section this should be simplified.
The main changes to the environmental theme are:
- Creation of five new environmental core measures and four new non-core measures, including a new proxy value for the volume of saved plastic
- Reclassification of some existing environmental measures as non-core
- Revised and simplified measure wording for core environmental measures
- Revised and simplified evidence requirements
- A support tool in the form of a spreadsheet to enable users to work out GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions’ savings – available from Social Value Portal.
Carbon offsetting measures NT64 and RE62 have been declassified to non-core, in response to concerns raised about the legitimacy of offsetting as a general principle and around particular offsetting programmes.
Other changes: proxy updates and new (non-environmental) measures
Based on the latest available data, all measures in the National TOMs framework have been reviewed, and their proxy values updated as appropriate. All proxy values are kept under review and work will continue to ensure the methodology remains up to date and fit for purpose.
Outside of the environmental theme, content changes to other areas of the framework for NT2022 are fairly limited. A small number of important changes have been implemented under the following outcomes:
- More opportunities for disadvantaged people
- Improved skills
- More working with the community.
Additional resources have been added to the National TOMs in support of the 280-page document which consists of one measure per page. To support inclusion and engagement further, more accessible resources are now available, which include:
- Welsh TOMs handbook
- ITT handbook
- ‘Dos and don’ts’ videos, showing simple infographics to explain the principles of using the National TOMs framework
- NTOMs cards (core values as cards) which provide a quick reference point and main details for each measure
- Downloadable NTOMs spreadsheet
- Greenhouse gas savings calculator
- NT2022 update booklet.
What does this mean for tendering?
We anticipate that the changes made to the National TOMs framework will promote inclusion to organisations inexperienced in measuring and delivering social value:
- The simple greenhouse gas emissions calculator will allow companies to more easily determine their current greenhouse gas emissions, thus providing a tangible benchmark for future, reportable improvement. In line with the government’s Net Zero Strategy, calling for all organisations to have net-zero carbon status by 2030, this newly developed tool will provide organisations with the means to calculate and measure their carbon emissions.
- The Light ready-made measure set of 18 values will simplify the process of engaging with social value for entry-level organisations and smaller contracts.
How we expect it to be used
Given the addition of more accessible formats to the National TOMs social value portal, such as the newly added ‘dos and don’ts’ videos, we expect much greater engagement with the framework. The 280-page TOMs guidebook remains the recommended source for clarification and detailed information but diversifying the methods by which information is imparted will only improve rates of participation.
Coming soon, Social Value Portal’s Social Value Academy e-learning programme will be open for registration, teaching participants at foundation, advanced, and accredited level. This programme will guide learners on their social value journey, from basics to expert. Similarly, Executive Compass and the Social Value Practice remain available to provide guidance, consultancy, training and support to navigate and manage social value within the competitive tender process.
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Posted on 09-02-2024