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How to add social value to public sector tenders – and business pitches too

UK Parliament, LondonSocial value is becoming more important in government and local government tendering as we seek, as a sector, to enhance and measure the positive impact of a project on the wider community.

As a fulfilment partner working with the public and private sectors, we’re deep-diving into this as a major piece of work right now. We’ll share more on our findings in due course, but first let’s look at:

  • What social value is and its key themes
  • How it can be added to public sector projects
  • What impact social value could have on private business
  • How can we measure it?

What is the Social Value Model?

The concept of social value as part of the public sector procurement process came in with the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2013.

It said that anyone who commissions work must consider how their budget spend improves the wider social, economic and environmental situation.

By 2018, for most major contracts, central government mandated evaluating tender documents according to their social value and reporting back on its impact.

“Anyone who commissions work must consider how their budget spend improves the wider social, economic and environmental situation”

It’s primarily designed to help get more value for money out of public sector procurement while improving particular pain points (see themes, listed below).

However, it also takes the view that local provider market or community involvement in these projects could energise services and discover “new and innovative solutions to difficult problems”.

What are the social value themes?

Tenders are now aligned with one or more social value themes.

  1. COVID-19 recovery
  2. Tackling economic inequality
  3. Cyber security
  4. Fighting climate change
  5. Equal opportunities
  6. Wellbeing

How is the Social Value Model important to business?

SMEs who want to work with public sector organisations and bid against larger behemoths, you now have another string to their bow: social value is evaluated via qualitative responses – that is, not volumes.

You still have to be able to compete on the other criteria, but as the minimum weighting applied to social value is 10%, and the reality is that it’s more like 20%, the process is more equal.

From a slightly different perspective, the Social Value Model is also exceptionally good news because it embraces corporate social responsibility (CSR).

It has the power to bring business closer to communities and make an impact on the things that matter most to us right now, from Covid-19 recovery to climate change.

How will the new procurement process impact businesses?

The Cabinet Office and DCMS have developed a consistent approach in the shape of the Social Value Model, which:

  • Defines social value through a priority themes and policy outcomes
  • Helps streamline and standardise the procurement process
  • Fits easily into into existing processes, minimising impact on commercial teams and suppliers
  • Provides a clear, systematic way to evaluate these policies in the award of a contract

How to prove social value impact

Social value has always been a big deal for us and, for years, we’ve been working with brands like L’Oreal and government departments to add social value where possible.

The Social Value Model, especially since 2018, is a great opportunity to truly align ourselves to social value and, as an active partner to the public and private sectors, help our clients do the same.

We’re currently building a policy and framework that align to the government’s Social Value Model. It has helped us identify:

  • How we believe we’re meeting the requirements of the model
  • How we can measure the impact effectively
  • Gaps showing opportunities for improving our social value impact

How we assess our impact

  1. Through our role as a 3PL fulfilment partner, including warehousing, contract packing and promotional marketing
  2. By adding value and achievement to clients’ CSR programmes by virtue of our approach and practices, including a commitment to sustainability
  3. As a conscientious employer within a community where some areas are in the top 10% most deprived in England with the 9th highest child poverty rates

Examples of how we’re meeting and measuring social value impact

The information below is a brief snapshot of Granby’s Social Value Policy Manual, but it gives a flavour of how we’re making sure we’re adding value.

“Granby does not employ agency staff and prefer to employ people for fixed term contracts, which will last at least as long as the contract they have been employed to work on lasts and these often lead to long term permanent contracts”

– a COVID-19 recovery method statement

We measure our impact on COVID-19 recovery using KPIs like:

  • Number of new roles created
  • Details of charity work undertaken by the company

“Opportunities are given to tender to local businesses and we actively seek to develop relationships with all our suppliers in an open and honest way”

– a tackling economic inequality method statement

We measure our impact on tackling economic inequality using KPIs like:

  • Supplier information, including the number of contract opportunities awarded under the contract and their value, total contract spend
  • Granby staff information, including the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) employment opportunities and apprenticeships created

“We utilise technology wherever possible within the process and have regular meetings with all our key suppliers to ensure we are aware of state of the art practices within the industry”

– an information security method statement

We measure our impact on information security using KPIs like:

  • Supplier information, including the number and value of contract opportunities awarded under the contract and how many companies in the supply chain have Cyber Essentials certification.

“We liaise with suppliers and customers to attempt to increase the use of sustainable product from design phase through to manufacture and end of use”

– a fighting climate change method statement

We measure our impact on fighting climate change using KPIs like:

  • Staff information, like the number of hours spent protecting and improving the environment
  • Calculations of annual reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases, water use, and waste to landfill arising from the performance of the contract

“Granby offer opportunity through the provision of jobs and apprenticeships to all sections of the community”

–  an equal opportunity method statement

We measure our impact on equal opportunities using KPIs like:

  • The total percentage of full-time equivalent (FTE) disabled people employed under the contract
  • The total percentage of disabled people on apprenticeship schemes under the contract

“We have members of staff that have had training on mental health within the workplace and have implemented measures to ensure staff are able to have a voice, that stress is acknowledged and mitigated against, and that the workplace is healthy and collaborative environment within which to work”

– a wellbeing method statement

We measure our impact on wellbeing using KPIs like:

  • The percentage of all companies in the supply chain to have implemented measures to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of employees.
  • The percentage of all companies in the supply chain to have implemented the 6 standards in the Mental Health at Work commitment.


All this matters. And the Social Value Model is an opportunity.

As a fulfilment partner, we often occupy the space between our clients and the supply chain. It’s an active, proactive position with a lot of influence across the board – on everything from contract packing materials to the skills of the production team.

If you’d like to know more about how we can add social value to your project, please get in touch – we’d love to talk you through it in more detail.

Photo by Eva Dang on Unsplash

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