The methodology behind the standard

What is the Impact Evaluation Standard (IES)?

The IES is a standard set of rules which enables organisations to bring consistency and additional rigour to their reporting of Social Value for individual projects or their entire organisation, encompassing local economic benefit, sustainability and community benefit aspects.

The framework can assist organisations in the completion of an indicative Social Return on Investment alongside a forecast Socioeconomic Cost-Benefit Analysis by:

  • Providing a comprehensive and standardised list of metrics as a guide to typical Social Value outputs and outcomes
  • Acting as a prompt to help steer what resources (Inputs) and activities might be required to achieve those outputs and outcomes
  • Where possible or relevant, providing financial ‘Proxy Values’ for either the economic benefit of those outcomes or the forecast Social Value of those outcomes.    

An overview of the Metrics and Proxy Values included in the IES is provided below. 

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Themes & Metrics

The 2023 version of the standard consists of a series of 119 ‘Metrics’ – measures of the Social Value outcomes intended e.g. the number of employment opportunities created, or reduction in CO2 emissions.  

These metrics are all aligned to the UK Government’s Social Value Model from PPN06/20 and each fall within one of 5 broad Themes:

  • Covid-19 Recovery
  • Tackling Economic Inequality
  • Fighting Climate Change
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Wellbeing

The metrics directly correlate to the 52 Reporting Metrics stipulated in the Social Value Model, but also extend these to give additional depth to the frameworks by adding other aspects noted in the Social Value Model Documentation and/or other commonly used metrics in Social Value reporting. 


Proxy Values

Many metrics have been given ‘Proxy’ Values – indicative financial values of Social Impact or Economic Benefit that provide an additional way to quantify social value and evidence the impact to society.  

Many Social Value calculators include Proxy Values – there is no single definitive source of these values. The Proxy Values in IES are UK-specific and have been derived by the IES Steering Committee and Working Groups using industry best practice and are drawn from different sources and studies. For instance:

  • Primary sources, are the most preferrable and are government research and studies – such as data from the ONS or the Manchester Unit Cost Database.
  • Secondary sources are university or thinktank studies
  • Tertiary sources, used where no studies exist, are created via independent research undertaken by the standard or external consultants.

Evolution & Contribution

The IES is updated at least on an annual basis, with each edition taking account of relevant emerging industry best practice. Each annual release is supported by guidance documentation on its application.

Contribution to the IES from experienced Social Value practitioners from a range of backgrounds including industry, consultancy, academia and public sector is welcomed to ensure a well rounded and rigorous approach. Contact us to discuss joining one of our Working Groups to contribute to the evolution of the framework. 

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