Everyone’s talking about Social Value
Last month (February 2023) we exhibited at the Procurement Reform Conference. Hundreds of people attended from government departments, local authority procurement teams and businesses to discuss challenges and opportunities.
As a 3PL partner to the public sector, this is a standout event in our calendar. Our stand was well-placed and we were visited by people from across the procurement landscape. We had many interesting discussions during the conference and the majority were about Social Value.
Social Value: the topic on everyone’s lips
In the 10 years since the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2013 came into force, the public sector has been bound to consider the long-lasting, wider impacts of budgetary spending from the public purse.
The Act states that anyone who commissions work must consider how their budget spend improves the wider social, economic and environmental situation. Businesses like Granby that work with the public sector must demonstrate how they will deliver more value for money.
Social Value Framework, Granby website
At Granby, we’ve noticed a ramping-up of commitment to Social Value. The weighting of many public sector project tenders is now around 40% for the Social Value aspects. Only 2 years ago, this was around 20% or less. It’s brilliant progress.
Right now, we’re on the cusp of another commitment to Social Value – The Procurement Bill. This Bill started life in the House of Lords and is at the reporting stage in the House of Commons. This is exciting for many reasons, which we’ll go into further down.
‘How are you achieving Social Value?’
This question was asked by almost everyone we spoke to at the conference. Civil servants from ministerial departments of the government asked; officers from local authority procurement teams did too, as well as Blue Light organisations and professionals from SMEs like Granby.
There was a genuine curiosity and it was brilliant to be able to share what we know. Even after 10 years, procurement is still feeling its way deeper and deeper into the themes to reveal the gold seam of true socially impactive value. Exchanging ideas and learnings – at events like these and across other channels – is definitely the way forward and benefits everyone.
Even after 10 years, procurement is still feeling its way deeper and deeper into the themes to reveal the gold seam of true socially impactive value. Exchanging ideas and learnings is definitely the way forward and benefits everyone.
We’re always completely transparent about how we achieve Social Value across all the themes. Since 2020, we’ve been auditing and continually improving our performance. See the Social Value section of our website, where our approach is set out; and we’ve just published our first official Social Value KPI report.
What had the most impact during our conversations at the Procurement Reform Conference was personal insight. Delegates asked us, as 2 individuals, how Social Value had impacted us. We were able to share very clear examples from our own lives for COVID-19 recovery, Tackling economic inequality, Equal opportunities and Well-being.
Good news for public sector procurement – and SMEs
The upcoming Procurement Bill is aimed at evolving public sector procurement through enhanced regulation, which will replace the current EU regime, except in Scotland. The Scottish Government has opted not to join the Bill and will retain its own procurement regulations in respect of devolved Scottish authorities.
The Bill’s benefits broadly underpin Social Value (which should concern everyone) as well as opening the door wider for SMEs to get involved more with public procurement. On the Social Value side, the Cabinet Office stated that ‘Levelling up the UK’ was also one of the critical benefits of this Bill.
While value for money will remain the highest priority in procurement, the Bill will require buyers to take account of national strategic priorities such as job creation, improving supplier resilience, and driving innovation.
Procurement Bill factsheet, UK Government
Regrettably, considering that Fighting climate change is a core Social Value theme, it’s not a consideration in the Bill. As £1 in every £3 of public money is spent on public procurement (£300 billion a year), such regulation would be a powerful driver towards Net Zero. It might serve to encourage buyers to select suppliers who can help them fulfil their environmental policy obligations.
Overcoming blockers to doing business – The Procurement Bill
Many SMEs want to do business with the public sector and the government has been specifically encouraging this for some time.
- Tendering is often a burden on the limited resources of an SME to engage with. While large organisations have project teams dedicated to tenders, SMEs have to take an ‘all hands on deck’ approach. This issue is compounded by the fact that every public sector organisation has its own bespoke way of doing things – we start afresh every time.
- The public sector worries that SMEs can’t handle complex requirements. Officers spend time vetting compliance, even if the business has been accepted onto a procurement framework.
The Procurement Bill will see the launch of a central digital hub to standardise proposals, while at the same time providing “greater flexibility for buyers to design their procurement processes and create more opportunities to negotiate with suppliers”.
This hub, we’ve heard, will store accreditations and certifications that can be easily retrieved for each tender, among other amazing things. And, as we understand it, procurement frameworks will be part of this network.
Do you have a project?
Granby, with around 70 years of experience, is on 3 procurement frameworks and 2 procurement services. Around 40% of our work is with the public sector.
We deliver a comprehensive range of logistics services, including collation, secure warehousing, asset tracking, kitting, reverse logistics and print management. Check out our case studies for the 2021 Census and the COVID infection survey. Get in touch and talk to us about your project.