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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on many people and organisations. As the UK builds back there is increasing pressure on the public sector to better manage their social value efforts and deliver positive outcomes to the people, communities and economies most affected. Theme 1 of the government’s Social Value Model aims to help achieve this.

As we outlined in our overview, the Social Value Model includes a menu of social value objectives for central government departments to select from and include in their contract procurement process, where relevant and proportionate. When, for example, the contract involves recruitment, retraining or community support activities, the theme of COVD-19 recovery is likely to appear as part of this evaluation criteria.

Detailed guidance on the model and award criteria is available here. For Theme 1, there are five sub criteria, which are outlined below together with examples taken from the guidance on the types of activities which might demonstrate and describe the tenderer’s approach.

Employment, retraining and return to work opportunities for those left unemployed by COVID-19

  • Develop and implement recruitment practices and employment conditions, such as the five foundational principles of quality work set out in the Good Work Plan (e.g. fair pay, participation and progression, voice and autonomy).
  • Providing career advice, for example in the form of mentoring, mock interviews, CV advice and careers guidance to the contract workforce.
  • Offering opportunities for work experience such as pre-employment courses, paid/unpaid student placements, or paid internships of six weeks or more.
  • Delivery of apprenticeships, traineeships and T Level industry placement opportunities (Levels 2, 3 and 4+) in relation to the contract.

Supporting people and community recovery from the impacts of COVID-19

  • Involving local stakeholders and users in the design of services, or community-led initiatives, for example to improve transport links or reduce loneliness.
  • Being responsive and adaptable to the results of any community consultation or engagement.
  • Activities taken to raise awareness of or take action to deliver the outcome based on the understanding of the identified community’s needs, for example raising awareness (staff, suppliers or community) of how to operate or use services safely.

Supporting organisations and businesses to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, including where new ways of working are needed to deliver services

  • Plans and actions to encourage new entrants to the market or supply chain, for example communicating contracting opportunities related to the contract in a way that will reach a diverse supplier audience or learning and development opportunities to start ups that might be able to tender for subcontracts during the life of the contract.
  • Collaborative working arrangements with organisations and new and growing businesses as part of the supply chain, such as co-designing services.
  • Advertising supply chain opportunities openly and to ensure they are accessible to new and growing businesses.

Supporting the physical and mental health of people affected by COVID-19, including reducing the demand on health and care services

  • Investing in the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the contract workforce, especially in the context of COVID-19, such as implementing the 6 standards in the Mental Health at Work commitment
  • Measuring staff’s physical and mental health and wellbeing engagement over time and adapt to any changes in the results.

Improving workplace conditions that support the COVID-19 recovery effort including effective social distancing, remote working, and sustainable travel solutions

  • Plans to engage the contract workforce in deciding the most important workplace conditions to address.
  • Actions to improve contract workplace conditions, such as effective social distancing, remote and flexible working, and awareness raising on health and wellbeing for the contract workforce, including around loneliness and isolation.

In addition to these, a common theme which appears across many of the sub criteria, is the need for suppliers to demonstrate and describe their understanding of the issues, for example the employment, skills, retraining and other return to work issues in the sector, as a consequence of COVID-19.

The reporting metrics for Theme 1 focus on outputs, for example the number of full-time equivalent employment opportunities created under the contract for those made redundant due to COVID-19, or the number of people-hours spent supporting local community integration, such as volunteering and community-led initiatives related to COVID-19. As well as providing quantities, we would also always encourage bidders to look at how they will measure the achievement of outcomes, for example by asking participants to complete questionnaires following activities to capture feedback on areas such as improved confidence or wellbeing following volunteering. This will provide valuable evidence for demonstrating the quality of the initiatives undertaken (which is an important assessment criteria), and support ongoing engagement with stakeholders and future bid submissions.

For more information on responding to social value tender questions you can contact us free on 0800 612 5563 or email