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Social value in action

By Alison Palmer15 January 20212 min read

With the launch in September 2020 of the UK Government Procurement Policy Note – Taking Account of Social Value in the Award of Central Government Contracts, businesses seeking to win government work must set out how they will also deliver Social Value priorities. These new measures came into effect on January 1st, 2021. Social Value looks beyond price to the collective benefit to a community and the wider world, including things such as happiness, well-being, inclusion, equality, employment, and environment. 

Cabinet Office Minister, Julia Lopez said: 

Too often, however, ‘value’ has been narrowly defined by price without taking into account other important factors such as the number of local jobs or apprenticeships a contractor will provide, the care they show the environment in their business practices –. 

Guy Battle is his recent article on Social value in a post-Covid world, stated “If a business does not have a social value policy, it will not win work with the public sector.” A policy is one thing howeverdelivering social value quite another.  

Liz Whiteley, Methods’ Business Development Director, has taken a proactive approach, working with schools in the Oldham area to deliver more effective access to careers information and work experience. Working in partnership with local businesses, Liz set up a week-long virtual work experience for students unable to access physical work experience due to restrictions caused by the pandemic. Through the power of virtual meetings, Liz organised several speakers known as Our futures champions” including Data Scientists and Cyber specialists, Digital Engineers, Construction, RAF and Health Professionals, Software Developers, Commercial Managers and Bid Writers, who interactively engaged with students to answer questions, link subjects with their jobs, and talk to them about the opportunities and challenges on their learning journey.  Over 200 young people took part in this pilot programme. 

Measurement of social value presents several challenges.  The impact of the policies that businesses put in place are not as easy to measure as the initiative that Liz Whiteley delivered.  There are several impact mapping tools available that measure the following: 

  • Inputs – Resources of all kinds 
  • Activities – What the organisation does 
  • Outputs – The direct result of an activity 
  • Outcomes – The longer term change it wants to see in people, communities, or areas it affects 
  • Expected Impact – The values it holds 

Inevitably there will be some level of subjectivity where key stakeholders hold different views of what social value means; however from now on, businesses selling to central and local government will be assessed on: 

  • Supporting COVID-19 recovery, including helping local communities manage and recover from the impact of COVID 
  • Tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience 
  • Fighting climate change and reducing waste 
  • Driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality Improving health and wellbeing and community integration 

The aim being to level-up the supplier playing field as well as benefitting the community in a future, post-pandemic landscape