How do Buyers work with Suppliers to deliver Social Value?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

How do Buyers work with suppliers and contractors to deliver social value and support achieving wider social, economic and environmental outcomes?

The Public Services (Social Value Act) was passed at the end of February 2012.

Social value is about maximising the impact of public expenditure. Social value considers more than just the financial transaction. It includes: Happiness, Wellbeing, Health, Inclusion, and Empowerment. These types of value often accrue to different people, communities or organisations and are not always easy to measure. The strategically-thinking Buyer recognises and is committed to supporting their organisation achieving wider social, economic and environmental outcomes.

How do Buyers work with Suppliers to deliver Social Value? Here’s four tangible examples of how Buyers can seek to evidence Social Value initiatives in their supply chains:

•             Embedding Social Value in your Procurement Strategy. the continued commitment to SMEs (and BMEs and third sector organisations) engagement in their supply chain, which enables recruitment and retention of local labour.  Careful consideration of ‘Lots’ and budgets for projects to ensure a wide range of potential bidders – an open, fair and transparent process.

•             Probing the recruitment policy of suppliers and contractors. When recruiting, for example there is consideration of applications from all sectors. In that context the long-term unemployed are an attractive source of human resources. Recognising that there may be obstacles to them obtaining employment and exploring the Suppliers’ commitment to assist them in whatever way they can. Initiatives that can be taken include providing work placements for people referred via government schemes designed to help the long term unemployed get up to date via work experience.

•             Valuing learning and development provision. Up-skilling of staff through formal training as well as on-going development programmes. Organisations are quick to state “our people are our greatest asset”. Seek evidence of staff being actively encouraged to develop their skills and seek out qualifications – and supported to do so.  Social value includes local businesses (noting defining “local” is a challenge!), and a wider local community of skilled people to achieve their aims.

•             Engagement with young people. Apprenticeship schemes with Suppliers working with their local colleges. Providing the opportunity to work with young people giving them a ‘step up’ into the business world.  Often the small business will also have benefited from their engagement with local education establishments having a wider impact on their approach to learning, development and training

In summary, Suppliers need to be encouraged by Buyers to demonstrate that Social Value is embedded in the way they do business. There are a range of non-financial impacts of programmes and interventions, including the wellbeing of individuals and communities and the environment. Suppliers are an integral part and enabler of the Buyer-led Social Value and experience suggests forward-thinking Suppliers welcome the opportunity. These are not empty words. Where £1 is spent by the Buyer on the delivery of services, that same £1 is also used by the Supplier, at the same time, to produce wider benefits to the local community.

What tangible examples have you found to evidence Social Value in action?


Steve Ashcroft, your first point of contact for advice and support on how to enhance procurement practices, can be reached on 01744 20698 or email

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