This year marks the 10th anniversary since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act, requiring public bodies to consider how the services they commission and procure might improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area they operate in.
So, what should you include when creating that well-rounded, social value bid response?
What is Social Value?
Since the introduction of The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, commissioning authorities have increasingly looked to secure wider benefits for their community when procuring services, purchasing or hiring goods, or carrying out works. As a result it is common for tenders to include questions related to social value, where tendering organisations are invited to make commitments on the social, economic and environmental benefits they will bring if they are awarded the contract.
Some typical areas in which you can offer social value in a tender might include:
- Employment or training opportunities for the contract workforce
- Targeting spend with the local supply chain
- Providing work experience placements, paid internships and employment taster sessions
- Using low emission company vehicles to deliver the service
- Sustainable procurement commitments, e.g. material selection based on its recyclability
- Company policy and plans to achieve net zero carbon
- Volunteering time, enabling the contract workforce to support community initiatives such as local foodbanks or regenerating a local green space
- Initiatives to support health interventions, such as smoking cessation programmes or schemes to promote physical exercise
- Making resources available to local schools, charities or voluntary organisations, e.g., use of your training facilities
We provide training on social value in tendering via our specialist division, The Social Value Practice.
Calculating Social Value
Social value is all about the buyer maximising the benefits to their local community by awarding the contract to your organisation. It is not uncommon for authorities to include both quantitative and qualitative elements to the social value elements of tenders, with different authorities taking different approaches.
With the former, the bidder is asked to quantify their social value offer by completing a social value matrix or calculator where you select the initiatives you will commit to throughout the contract term, and which provides a monetary figure for the social value initiatives you propose. The bidder with the highest social value offering will typically score full marks for this section.
For qualitative responses, the authority is looking for bidders to detail how these commitments will be delivered, giving a clear plan for how the identified benefits and outcomes will be achieved.
Creating Social Value Responses
Where the authority is using a combination of quantitative and qualitative assessment, it will be important to ensure your responses are aligned to the commitments you have made in the social value matrix or calculator. However, a few important things to remember when developing any quality method statement for your social value response are:
- Be specific. It is important to include realistic, quantified commitments within your bid which are aligned to the priorities of the purchasing authority and the award criteria. For example, if you commit to creating apprenticeship opportunities, specify how many, what the type of apprenticeship is, the qualifications they will gain, and any training providers you might work with.
- Address the question. Don’t fall into the trap of scanning the social value question and immediately writing about the charitable donations your organisation has made in the past or the number of apprentices you already employ. The majority of social value questions ask you to cover specific themes and request a forward-looking statement of the social value commitments you will deliver for the contract that you are bidding for.
- Make sure your commitments are realistic. The evaluator needs to have confidence that the commitments you make are achievable and proportionate to the value of the contract. Only make social value commitments that you can know you can deliver. Often, authorities will hold you to the pledges made in your tender, and overestimating what you can offer could have a reputational and financial impact in the long term.
- Consider monitoring and reporting. It is important to explain to evaluators how you will monitor the delivery of your social value commitments and report on the impact you have, and how you will continue to maximise the benefits you create over the contract duration.
Since the introduction of the Public Services (Social Value) Act things have not stood still. In 2020 central government announced details on how it would go further, and its requirements for social value to be explicitly evaluated when awarding most major contracts. In addition, in April this year the NHS is introducing a mandatory minimum weighting for social values in its procurement. You can find out more about the central government social value model here, and for more information on responding to social value tender questions, you can contact us free on 0800 612 5563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
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