Have you heard of social value? Have you been asked to demonstrate it when responding to a bid?
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 is a relatively recent introduction, but the concept of social value, or corporate social responsibility, has been taken into account in tenders and bids for a number of years. So if you haven’t heard of the Act, it is well worth researching. The Act became law in March 2012 and was enacted from the 31st January 2013, from which time public organisations conducting tenders must be compliant with the provisions of the Act.
The Act was initiated by Chris White MP as a Private Members Bill and aims to make ‘social value’ more relevant and of increased importance in the placement of public services. In a nutshell, public authorities must take into account the following when they are procuring the provision of public services:
- How what is proposed to be purchased might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area
- How, when conducting the procurement process, that process might act with a view to securing the improvement identified
The procurement must continue to comply with all other procurement legislation, and many public bodies are still getting to grips with this Act and how it impacts on their procurement activities. The new legislation encourages public bodies to focus on the ‘whole lifecycle requirements’ of a procurement project, and therefore the project can include both social and economic requirements.
Typically, public bodies have up to now focused on the use of local labour, the employment of apprentices and training opportunities that may be provided. But social value is much more than this. It covers charitable works, environmental practices, how you work with suppliers, staffing and much more.
If you’ve never considered social value before, a great start point is to find out what charitable and voluntary activity your staff are engaged in. As an employer, is there any way in which you can support them to engage more fully, or get more involved. Are there sponsorship opportunities? Do you recruit apprentices? Are your staff based locally, thereby spending their wages with local businesses? How do you select your suppliers? Are they locally based? Do they supply locally manufactured products?
If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with us and we’ll happily discuss social value with you. If you’re based in Staffordshire, talk to Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, who have a Social Value Forum, or take a look at www.tradingforgood.co.uk which is a free to use website that captures your social value activity and helps you to consider what might count as social value.