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County Durham social value project passes £300million mark

A project which brings together 11 of County Durham’s biggest employers has generated more than £300million in “social value” for the county since its launch last year.

The ‘County Durham Pound’ project has seen organisations including Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary and Durham University commit to maximising the local impact of their collective spending power.

And since its launch last September, it has recorded £305million of social value being put back into the county by member organisations.

The vast majority of the sum recorded – £289million – stems from the economic benefits of member organisations employing almost 11,000 County Durham residents. Another £2million comes from their collective employment of 300 local apprentices in a range of fields including community sport, business administration and civil engineering.

Alongside that, staff have carried out more than £21,500 worth of school visits, giving safety talks, supporting careers events and creating a community garden. They’ve also completed almost £50,000 worth of community volunteering activities, lending a hand in local foodbanks, youth groups and hospices.

Cllr Susan McDonnell, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for digital, customer services and procurement, said: “Social value is the value an organisation contributes to an area beyond its ‘business as usual’ activities. We quantify it in terms of benefit to the economy, the community and the environment.

“It’s based on a recognition that as large organisations, we can make a huge difference to the prosperity of our local area, whether it’s by building local supply chains and purchasing more local products and services, or by finding ways our staff can help local communities.

“To have recorded in excess of £300million in social value in just under a year is hugely encouraging and what that gives us is a baseline. It’s a great start and the focus now is on growing that through things like ‘meet the buyers’ events to engage with local suppliers.”

The social value benefits of the County Durham Pound Project are being measured using the National TOMs – Themes, Outcomes and Measures framework. Endorsed by the Local Government Association, the framework measures social value in a way that enables consistency, comparability, and transparency.

The 11 County Durham Pound member organisations are Durham County Council, its business support service Business Durham, Durham University, Durham Constabulary, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office, Northumbrian Water, believe housing, Karbon Homes, Livin, Bernicia and New College Durham.

In June, the County Durham Pound scheme was awarded Best Public Sector Project award at the 2023 Social Value Conference.

For more information about the County Durham Pound visit www.countydurhampound.co.uk.

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