Delivery community benefits
As Scotland’s economic and community development agency for the north of Scotland, developing community benefits is a key initiative. We ask all suppliers bidding for a contract with HIE to indicate how their service delivery will bring about community benefits, examples of which include:
- Targeted recruitment and training initiatives
- Supporting Educational initiatives e.g. offering work experience placements/local school visit to explain what you do/routes to getting into the profession etc
- Vocational training opportunities
- Supply chain initiatives/development
- Support for Community and/or Environmental initiatives which may be taking place in the local community
- Supported business, third sector and voluntary initiatives e.g. offering this sector sub-contracting opportunities to deliver elements of the contract
- Support for Equality and diversity initiatives to encourage inclusiveness
- Use of Gaelic to achieve both cultural and economic benefits.
- Charitable donations/monetary value of contributions to community activities
- Graduate, Apprentice, work placements and/or trainee placements
- Supplier engagement with schools, colleges and/or universities
- Providing funding for new community facilities
- Support and development opportunities delivered to young people
All contract delivery should aim to contribute towards sustainable economic growth e.g. help deliver benefits that will strengthen communities and fragile areas; seek to deliver wider social benefit for the area, or increase inward investment.
Please see our case study below for more information about how OnTime IT & Comms Limited are delivering community benefits.
OnTime IT & Comms Limited - a micro SME delivering key community benefits to the Outer Hebrides
OnTime IT & Comms Limited are based in Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides and provide ICT assistance to private and public sector organisations throughout the Western Isles. OnTime supports and assists communities sustain their existence and to grow their skills and subsequent opportunities, something which is embedded in the organisation’s ethos and practices.
In 2017, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) set up a contract to deliver Field Support Services for the Connected Communities Broadband Network (owned by HIE) which delivers wholesale broadband access to 5 public sector and 2 private sector customers. The supplier is responsible for the future installation, commissioning and decommissioning of equipment required to support the on-going operation of the network. In addition to the IT technical skills needed, they are required to use registered and accredited climbers and electrical engineers.
The tendering process
The tendering process required the bidder to outline any community benefits they could offer as part of the delivery of the contract.
In the case of OnTime, all of the community benefits offered were designed to benefit the local community, an ethos applied in context of their operations. This is exemplified by their willingness to develop the local workforce through skills development and provision of other opportunities.
As a direct result of winning this contract, the business was able to facilitate an apprenticeship. The business has hosted many educational support initiatives such as school visits to their office, work experience opportunities, mentoring, assisting with mock interviews and helping with CV’s to enable local people gain new skills and to develop in other areas such as STEM, a field which currently has a large skills gap nationwide). OnTime have also committed to up-skill their existing workforce and encourage sub-contractors to do the same by offering them support, for example through additional IT and climbing related courses leading to qualifications which would further develop their competencies. They also offered to set up free WIFI at local agricultural events and provide free technical support to a local radio station.
The community benefits outlined within the tender response are regularly monitored and reported on as part of HIE’s contract management processes.
OnTime have specifically stated that rather than these community benefits costing them money; the benefits they bring to the company e.g in terms of skills development, retention of staff and development outweigh the costs associated and will consequently act to the betterment of the company in the long term.
Fair working practices
Equally important during the procurement process is how bidders seek to commit to fair work practices for all engaged in management and delivery of the contract, including employees, sub contractors and agency workers. In this case the organisation was the first islands based business to be recognised as a Scottish Living Wage Employer. In addition to this, OnTime has now signed to commit to the delivery of the Scottish Business Pledge in a bid to ensure a fairer society for all.
Since being awarded the contract they have also received Cyber Essentials accreditation, demonstrating awareness of and commitment to ensuring security of any data held.
“I would like to congratulate OnTime for becoming the first islands-based firm to sign up as Living Wage employers. This sends a signal to customers and suppliers about fairness, showcasing the organisations commitment to be an ethical employer.”
Alasdair Allan MSP.