The new social value framework: Taking the Social Value Act one step further

Last week we hosted an online event for charities on the new social value framework to be applied to new central government procurements from 1 January 2021. This framework has been published following consultation and engagement last year, which NCVO contributed to.

Why has this framework been introduced?

This new framework, set out in procurement policy note 06/20, has been introduced to maximise the social value benefits of central government procurement. The framework pushes central government commissioners to take social value into account and explicitly evaluate social value when awarding funding, going further than the existing legal requirement to ‘consider’ social value.

It also aims to create a more consistent approach to social value, focusing on key outcomes and aligning to the Sustainable Development Goals, whilst also giving commissioners some flexibility.

How will the framework be used?

The framework is mandatory for central government departments, their executive agencies, and non-departmental government bodies.

While the framework sets out five areas of priority focus (each with one or two outcomes), commissioners will be able to pick which areas and outcomes are most relevant to the procurement:

  • Covid-19 recovery (helping local communities to manage and recover from the impact of covid-19)
  • Tackling economic inequality (creating new businesses, jobs and skills, and increasing supply chain resilience and capacity)
  • Fighting climate change (effective stewardship of the environment)
  • Equal opportunity (tackling workforce inequality and reducing the disability employment gap)
  • Wellbeing (improving health and wellbeing, as well as community integration)

Organisations seeking funding will be asked to set out how they’ll deliver the required social value and outline how they’ll implement and monitor this activity. The framework gives commissioners a set of criteria and metrics to evaluate social value and gives examples of how to score social value. For example, on a scale of ‘fail’ to ‘excellent’. There’ll be a minimum weighting of 10% given to social value in decision making, with some flexibility to apply a higher weighting if relevant.

What does the framework mean for charities and volunteering?

While we were disappointed to not see a higher weighting given, we think there are lots of potential advantages to this framework. Volunteering is outlined as a way to deliver social value across most priority areas. We are pleased to see explicit mention of increasing the involvement of voluntary organisations in supply chains, with criteria on fair treatment and management.

Charity campaigners will also be glad to see social value being used to drive action on inequality and climate change, so long as commissioners are ambitious in applying this framework. In particular, we support the push to make all organisations more inclusive, particularly for those underrepresented in the workforce.

Social value is the social, economic, or environmental value brought in addition to the core deliverables of a contract. This definition can present challenges. While there are charities that will bring value in addition to the core service deliverables, for many charities social values is embedded in the unique way in which they deliver services. Charities often bring value that is hard to measure, qualitatively or quantitatively, such as deep relationships in local communities.

We look forward to seeing the reporting on this framework to better understand whether this approach is supporting charities to deliver their missions.

Next steps

We think there are a number of steps charities can take to prepare for this new framework, if they are funded or seek to be funded via central government procurement:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the framework and consider what social value you bring across these priority areas.
  2. Speak to central government commissioners or your prime providers and attend market engagement events.
  3. Look out for webinars to be run by government in early 2021.

Please email Rebecca at rebecca.young@ncvo.org.uk if you have any concerns or questions about this framework. If you would like support for evaluation please contact our Charities Evaluation Services.

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Rebecca Young Rebecca Young is a senior policy officer at NCVO, working primarily on public services and volunteering policy. Before joining NCVO, Rebecca led on mental health, housing and disability policy at the National Union of Students.

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