The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 (The Act) started life as a Private Members Bill tabled by Chris White MP in 2010. It received Royal Assent in March 2012 and came into force in January 2013.
The Act places a duty on public bodies to consider social value ahead of procuring the provision of services. The Act states that:
The authority must consider:
1. a) How what is proposed to be procured might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area, and
2. b) How, in conducting the process of procurement, it might act with a view to securing that improvement.
Cabinet Office has published guidance on the Act, which states:
The Act does not prescribe how the results of the consideration of these impacts and feedback from any accompanying consultation should shape any procurement which is undertaken. It does enable the citizen and user perspectives on potential services to be taken into account in the development of outcomes and specifications for the services to be procured. With an increasing emphasis on procuring for outcomes and achieving better results for less expenditure specifications informed by the consideration of the issues set out in the Act can lead to more innovative and cost effective solutions. This might include co- commissioning of services across a number of public bodies or breaking requirements into smaller lots.
As well as this guidance, there are a number of other resources which can help explain the act for different audiences. Compact Voice issues a briefing which encourages local Compact and other partnership groups to define how social value will be considered during procurement, enabling shared understanding and stronger partnerships.
Social Enterprise UK, who worked with Chris White on the passage of this Act, have also published a briefing and NCVO have published examples of where social value has led to positive outcomes for the voluntary sector.
After the Act was enforced, Chris White was appointed as Social Value Ambassador, with the stated aim of working with local authorities and other sectors to improve their use and understanding of the Act.
Click here for Cabinet Office guidance
Click here for Compact Voice briefing
Click here for Social Enterprise UK briefing
Click here for NCVO examples
EDF thanks Tom Elkins, Manager of Compact Voice, for writing this briefing.