How apt that Cabinet Office chose to publish their review of the impact of the Social Value Act (2012) on Friday 13th…..
Not being a particularly superstitious, we decided to focus on the fact that the review outcomes had been published the day before Valentines and embrace all things lovely about the Act. A bunch of old romantics really!
First, let’s take a little step backwards and remember why the Social Value Act (SVA) was brought to the fore:-
“(It) applies to public services contracts above the EU threshold for the application of EU procurement rules. The act requires commissioners in England and Wales to think about the value they can secure for their area when buying services at the pre-procurement stage:
- how the services they are going to buy might improve the economic, social or environmental well-being of the area
- how they might secure this improvement
- whether they should consult on these issues”
In practice though, there is a complex interplay between trying to implement and achieve Social Value by encouraging Localism/Employment Growth etc while balancing the equality of treatment requirements of “EU” procurement. These are things we’ve all known and tried to embrace fully at pre-procurement stage, and, in the main, managed to implement effective solutions.
In short, the review sets out that a number of positives have come out of the use of the Act in Public Procurement in the last 2 years. We have witnessed and indeed implemented some of these positives in partnerships with clients, but if honest, some of these are just ‘good procurement practice’ rather than a concerted effort to implement the Act.
Of more concern are the key recommendations that the review identifies:-
- €750,000 threshold for ‘light touch’ regime under new PPRs is ‘too high’ to implement SVA meaningfully and so the following is being proposed:-
“We will be preventing the Act’s threshold for many services from increasing to 750,000 euros by enacting an amendment to the Act under the new EU Public Contracts Regulations that preserves the current thresholds, until further legislation might be able to determine new thresholds”.
- There is a mixed approach to embracing SVA during pre-procurement and so the following is being proposed:-
“The Cabinet Office promotes better awareness and take-up of social value across the key parts of the public sector and business”
- Gaps in understanding of the SVA leads to inconsistent implementation. There are a number of proposals and indeed a helpful annex of information for enhancing awareness and consistency including:-
“Knowing how to define social value and how and when to include it during the procurement process | applying social value within a legal framework and procurement rules | clarifying its use in pre-procurement”
- Nobody really understands how to measure/report where Social Value is being achieved and so it has been proposed that a framework and principles for the current state of social value measurement be introduced.
I suppose this is where the largest element of focus is for the review. Thankfully, they point us in the direction of a number of organisations who provide assistance with the ‘measurement’ elements of delivering Social Value.
The first they highlight is “Inspiring Impact” which has a number of self assessment and measurement tools. In essence to determine the ‘impact’ of the proposed Social Value proposals. The tools themselves are easily located here.
The second they highlight is the “Social Value Portal” which has a number of useful tools including worksheets for measuring true social impact. Most pleasing, especially at such a romantic time of the year, they even have a whole section dedicated to consultants who are assisting their clients implement Social Value Strategies during procurement activities – feeling the love yet!?!
So, what have we learned? Well. SVA is here to stay, but I think we all knew that. What we now need to do is really embrace all that it has to offer – and then tell people all about it!