MJ Church Social Value Strategy


Ellie Jenkins


Established in 1974, Southwest-based MJ Church is a family-run civil engineering, earthworks and waste management business. In recent years, it has grown significantly, broadening its range of sectors and clients, with social value becoming key for many of its contracts.

Social value is being created every day across MJ Church, however this information wasn’t being consistently captured. They therefore commissioned Akerlof to support the development of a Social Value Strategy, build internal awareness and solidify commitment across the business.

Acknowledging the collective ambitions of public and private sector clients to optimise the social value created through infrastructure investment, MJ Church was keen to stay ahead of the curve. In addition, the team identified that a structured approach to social value would strengthen networks and underpin internal engagement, skills and recruitment.

What we did

We initially worked with MJ Church to undertake a materiality assessment. This enabled us to understand existing activities and identify the areas of focus that were important to them, or that presented a business risk. Through this engagement, it was clear that social value maturity and priorities ranged across the business. To reflect this, we helped set actions for MJ Church as a whole, as well as for each business unit.

We prioritised key areas of focus to develop an easy-to-understand Social Value Policy and Roadmap, as well as an approach to measurement. Supported by 6 social value themes, the strategy also details examples of good, better, best practice to guide delivery teams.

The impact

  • A Social Value Policy that details the 6 social value themes, as well as MJ Church’s commitments, governance and approach to measurement
  • Energised MJ Church’s Social Value Taskforce, enabling them to further develop their action plans and impact their part of the business for the better
  • Engagement from 21% of employees providing an insight into perceived strengths, weaknesses, areas of importance, attitudes to volunteering and existing activity
  • Historically, social value has been viewed through the narrow lens of employment and apprenticeship opportunities; this strategy included wider areas of focus for a holistic approach

Don't just take our word for it...

Many thanks (and well done) on producing such a thorough report – I’m impressed with the way you have managed to present a detailed, multi-faceted topic so clearly into bite-size chunks. From my experience of corporate strategy / projects, this is pretty much essential if you want to translate things into success.

Julian Cope, Quality Manager, MJ Church

Jamie Hillier


With a penchant for tweed and jackets with leather arm patches, Jamie began his career as a quantity surveyor, before climbing the ladder to lead major projects for a Tier 1 contractor.

Eventually expanding his book collection beyond copies of SMM7, Jamie has interest in a broad range of subjects linked to delivering better outcomes for society and the environment.

His strategic insights on MMC and behavioural science have made their way into numerous government, industry and academic publications, including the Construction Playbook, Transforming Infrastructure Performance Roadmap to 2030, the Platform Rulebook and the RIBA DfMA Overlay.

John Handscomb


Construction is in John’s blood. Learning from his father who was a planner and project manager, John began his career by working on some iconic projects in both the public and private sector.

As a procurement expert and integrator of new ways of working, John has pioneered the integration of platform principles, DfMA processes and supply chain within over £5bn projects in the last 15 years, for some of the largest building programmes in the UK. Despite his considerable expertise, John keeps it simple, communicating complicated ideas with ease and helping to equip the industry with new knowledge and skills.

Outside of Akerlof, John enjoys his executive role with technology start-up ScanTech Digital, spending time with his family, taking trips down the football, playing a bit of golf with friends and the odd pint. 

Our name is shared with George Akerlof, a Nobel Prize-winning economist.

His seminal paper, Market for Lemons, demonstrated the devastating consequences of making decisions under the conditions of quality uncertainty and unequal information between buyers and sellers, increasing the chance of buyers ending up with a ‘lemon’.

This 50-year-old concept continues to retain parallels within the construction industry.

Through our insight and experience, we can rebalance this information asymmetry on behalf of our clients, levelling the playing field to deliver better outcomes.