What is Social Value in Procurement?

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In the past profit and value for money has more often than not been at the forefront of most organisations’ procurement decision making, however this is no longer the case.  With the increasing power of technology and social media we can see the effect we are having in real time and we are realising that something needs to be done.

In recent years there has been a shift in understanding how value for money should be calculated, growing support for the idea that should include social environmental and economical requirements.  This led to the Public Services Act (2012).  This began significant steps to understanding and embedding social value in procurement practises.  It marked the first time Public bodies were required to consider how procurement might improve social, environmental and economic wellbeing.  The act aims to give procurement officials freedom to establish the types of value that’ll benefit their local community.

However, one fundamental problem with social value is the ambiguity of the term.  Each organisation can have a different interpretation of what adds value.  The reason for this vague definition is that each local community is different and has its own unique issues that need to be treated as such.  This can cause issues as there is no clear-cut definition or a proper way to measure social value.

Social value effects all walk of life, but it can be roughly broken down into three categories.  Social, Environmental and Economical.  Social Value is not only essential for increasing moral and being accountable for your staff, stakeholders and investors, but by measuring social value we’ll be able to target which areas will need improvements for specific communities.  To change the way the world accounts for value by reducing inequality and environmental degradation and improve well-being based on principles and transparency.

Social value is about the welfare of the population.  Our actions affect peoples’ lives and our lives are affected by the actions of others, but our current accounting system does not take this into consideration.  Social Value looks at the changes people experience in their lives because of the activities of business and values.  We must view the changes from the perspective of people who are most affected by them.  This allows us to understand what is valued.  The process of social value is a gradual one some organisations are further ahead than others, the key to social value is increasing the awareness of the possibilities that can be achieved.

We have partnered with Social Value UK and Contract for Change.  Social Value UK is the national network for anyone interested in social value and social impact.  Working with members such as Value Match to increase the measurement, management and accounting of social value through Social Value Principles.

Value Match is one of the pioneering businesses moving forwards with Contract for Change, Contract for Change seeks to optimise Social Value in procurement and commissioning.