Crown Commercial Service
All things to all people: exploring social value approaches in public procurement
Charlene Maginnis explains how the Government’s rules on social value are shaping the public sector’s buying decisions.
This article was originally published in Public Finance.
A different kind of squeeze is coming to public sector finances, after a year of unprecedented and unforeseen spending.
For the coming decade, ensuring that the public sector is getting every ounce of value that it can possibly get from its procurements is going to be the name of the game. And different ideas of value will be added to, and magnify, traditional concerns of pounds and pence.
In September 2020, the Cabinet Office published Public Procurement Note 06/20 – taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts.
The guidance note requires all central government departments to explicitly evaluate social value in their new procurements, where the requirements are relevant and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.
The PPN also includes a new social value model, which contains a menu of priority social value themes and policy outcomes that can be applied in new procurements and contracts.
And social value is certainly not restricted to central government bodies. If anything, local government has led the way in considering how to make sure its local citizens’ money is being used to boost local economies and tackle social inequalities.
We know that suppliers are having to review their offer to the public sector to catch up with often developed and preconceived notions of what they should be able to offer.
For many companies, it will be a step into the unknown.
A complex environment
Thousands of suppliers of all sizes are currently signed up to supply goods and services through Crown Commercial Service frameworks, across a dizzying array of categories and specialisms.
When we also consider that CCS works with 18,000 customers across the length and breadth of the UK, the opportunity for social value to be generated through our procurement solutions is clear. What is also clear however is that a one-size fits all approach to delivering that value is not going to work.
Self-evidently, a large central government body is not going to look at social value in the same way as a rural local authority or large hospital trust. That poses a challenge for suppliers – how should they structure their bids to meet the needs of a complex customer market?
At CCS we’ve been starting to see the first generation of framework agreements awarded since the new PPN came into effect, and the many and various ways suppliers are trying to meet the new requirements to set out their social value offer.
CCS supports the public sector to procure goods and services. The distinction between those two different kinds of product is an important one when considering social value.
For service-led sectors, people obviously sit at the heart of potential opportunities. For suppliers who are connecting the public sector with human resources and expertise, focusing on how those people are recruited and engaged offers one route to delivering social value.
CCS may ask suppliers bidding to join our agreements to demonstrate how they work to ensure fair, inclusive and ethical employment practices. This could include evidence that they’ve advertised vacancies in a wide range of locations, are using name-blind recruitment practices, or that they’ve engaged with VCSE organisations about the possibility of offering apprenticeships.
Many suppliers of products on the other hand are looking at the impact their manufacturing processes have on the environment, and on the UK’s carbon net zero targets.
Suppliers on CCS’s furniture agreement are asked to support the Greening Government Commitment to ensure that all packaging of products is reusable or readily recyclable. They report on their greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of waste they send to landfill, and are obliged to demonstrate sustainable sourcing practices for the timber they use.
The commonality here is the importance of considering how social value can be maximised at every stage of the procurement process, whether you’re buying in physical goods or human expertise.
Find out more
You can find a full list of Crown Commercial Service commercial agreements and details of how to build policy considerations into your procurement in our interactive digital brochure.
Latest News from
Crown Commercial Service
Crown Commercial Service announces 3 year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oracle09/06/2021 13:05:00
We are delighted to announce that we have negotiated a 3 year MoU with cloud applications and infrastructure provider, Oracle.
Helping the education sector avoid cyber attacks28/05/2021 14:33:00
With the recent increase in cyber attacks within the education sector, here are some top tips to avoid this happening to your school, college or university.
West Lothian College complete building extension against the clock thanks to Construction framework25/05/2021 12:33:00
Faced with a tight deadline, Crown Commercial Service helped the college to complete their extension project on time and within budget by using the Construction framework.
Crown Commercial Service launches new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Workday to help accelerate public sector innovation24/05/2021 10:43:00
CCS are pleased to announce that we have signed a new MoU with Workday, a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources.
5 things businesses need to do to supply to the public sector21/05/2021 14:33:00
Do you want to supply goods or services to the public sector? Find out how your business can become a CCS supplier.
Back on the road: building your green fleet plan19/05/2021 10:25:00
As the Chancellor unveiled his Budget, it became clear that the environment has moved front and centre in the discussion about the future of the UK and our economy.
Interpreting and translation services for the world we live in today18/05/2021 12:20:00
Our new Language Services framework is now live, providing interpreting, translation and transcription services that support remote working and social distancing.
Supply Teachers deal leads to increased savings, quality and compliance for 17 academies17/05/2021 12:20:00
Read how one multi-academy trust benefitted from our Supply Teachers deal.