Call for clarity over Government’s ‘social value’ procurement plans

The author of the Social Value Act has called for “greater clarity” over exactly how…...

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The author of the Social Value Act has called for “greater clarity” over exactly how Government plans to use it in future procurement projects.

Last week, David Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, confirmed that evaluation of social value, as defined in the Act, will become an obligatory consideration in all major central Government procurement projects.

Welcoming the announcement, the Act’s author, former MP Chris White, currently a board member of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK), added yesterday: “… there needs to be further clarity around how government contracts will ‘explicitly evaluate’ social value. I believe that the act also needs strengthening across local government and the NHS, as well as ensuring that it is applied not only to services, but also to goods, works and asset management.”

He urged for clarification over certain phrases in the report, particularly the reference to ‘major procurements’. The bar for what classifies as ‘major’ should not be set so high that it only covers a small number of projects, but should embrace enough of the overall public spend.

He also emphasised that the advantages of social value were obvious and it should inform as much public spending as possible to ensure the best returns on public investment. The Government’s support for the Social Value Act was welcome, he added. He and the SEUK remained keen to offer any evidence or assistance to advance its cause and help it to achieve its potential.

SEUK Chair, Lord Victor Adebowale, said that his organisation had continually promoted extensions to the Act, which he described as uncontroversial as a consensus was in place across public, private and social sectors to ensure fairness and opportunity wherever they were most acutely needed. He pledged to go on working with the SEUK’s allies to further fortify the Act to ensure that all taxpayer monies were managed to foster broader, more enduring societal value.

For central government procurement professionals, it seems that their familiar lexicon of action terms – cost reduction, sourcing savings, tail spend management – must now incorporate a new term: social value.

Nick Ford

Nick has over 30 years procurement experience in consulting, outsourcing and line roles within industry with international experience across many sectors and industries and led many procurement programs with blue chip organisations.

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