A decade on from the introduction of The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, more purchasing authorities are integrating social value as part of the quality element of the ITT, with sub-weightings ranging between 5-25%. In a similar vein, the 2020 Green Paper on public procurement signalled a shift away from awarding contracts to the ‘most economically advantageous tender,’ further emphasising social value and public benefits as part of the award process and criteria.
With this increased focus, it is essential to ensure a seamless incorporation of your commitments into overall service delivery following contract award. Here are a few tips for successfully implementing social value.
Ensure your timescales are tenable and deliverable
When formulating commitments, it is important to provide offerings which are relevant, comprehensive, and unambiguous. However, the delivery of social value commitments also constitutes a key performance indicator, which buyers will monitor and review over the contract term.
Consequently, it is important to be cognisant that failing to comply with timescales could result in performance failure and subsequent corrective actions from authorities. To mitigate this outcome, consider the following measures:
- Ensure commitments are realistic: It can be tempting to focus solely on quantity and simply offer ‘as much as possible’ to score high marks on social value responses within a bid – however, evaluators are trained to award marks on achievability and the quality of commitments rather than solely the quantity, which enables SMEs to remain competitive. Offerings which are proportionate to the value and geographic area of the contract will facilitate smooth future implementation.
- Integrate offerings into lookahead schedules: As with any other element of contract management, commitments should be built into delivery schedules, employee rostering and staff training for apprenticeships/work placements.
- Spread commitments throughout the year: Frontloading or backloading of commitments risks impacting labour resources, delivery of workstreams and unanticipated peaks in demand. Consider uniformly allocating time-bound commitments, such as volunteer days or supporting community projects, across the year/contract duration.
Careful and considered planning of timescales will enable you to comply with requirements and benchmarks stemming from social value commitments.
Use the mobilisation period to clarify commitments and partnerships
Buyers and authority representatives can be a valuable resource in aligning commitments with local needs to deliver maximum social value impact, with pre-start meetings serving as a forum to access local knowledge. This can include:
- Employment: Discussing the most deprived areas of a local authority/procurement area for targeted apprenticeships, work placements and new employees.
- Local growth: Identifying opportunities to support local supply chains or provide insight and business advice to emerging small/microbusinesses.
- Community health: Focusing on projects in high demand or serious need of support, such as community clean-ups or in-kind contributions to local food banks.
- Environment: Signposting to local environmental stakeholders, initiatives and waste management providers, allowing for a localised environmental impact.
The Social Value Portal has endorsed sites such as Neighbourly for identifying potential partners, with over 20,000 vetted charities across the UK. While it is important to demonstrate your own research and commitment to identifying social value opportunities, representatives can supplement your offerings by providing local insight and direction to your ideas.
Provide continuous updates to the buyer
As with any key performance indicator, communicating progress as part of review meetings is crucial to demonstrating compliance, evidencing fulfilled commitments and facilitating continuous improvement. Assign responsibility to one member of the business to provide communication and updates to purchasing authorities, thereby assuring them of sustained commitments and compliance.
Communications should include:
- Proof of employment and apprenticeships, such as payslips verifying Real Living Wage compliance and qualifications gained as part of apprenticeship schemes
- Invoices tracking the amount/percentage of supply chain spend within the purchasing authority’s administrative boundaries and circulating within the local economy
- Quantified reports on environmental commitments such as reducing landfill waste or carbon emissions, substantiated by waste transfer notices or The SME Climate Hub’s emissions calculator
- Recording the number of attendees and qualitative feedback from volunteering events for buyer representatives to review.
Establishing a transparent and consistent communication strategy will assure the buyer you are on track to deliver your offerings, while also reinforcing the importance of timescales and social value offerings within your organisation.
All tenders written by our team of writers benefit from liaising with our Director of Social Value and access to our Social Value Practice division. To find out more on how we can support your social value needs or more general bid and tender writing queries, contact our team today at 0800 612 5563 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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