The Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport have launched a consultation on how government should take account social value in the award of central government contracts. The Civil Society Strategy commits the government to use its buying power to deliver social change. Currently public sector procurers are required to award contracts to the most economically advantageous tender, while in the new proposal it is proposed to as well consider social value throughout procurement process considering the wellbeing of the individuals and communities, social capital and environment.
The Public Contracts Regulation 2015 require the award criteria to be linked to the subject matter of the contract and treat bidders equally and without discrimination. Public bodies already often go beyond the best price considering wider social benefits. However, there currently isn’t a common standard tool and consistent approach across departments.
The new evaluation model defines government’s commercial objectives for social value articulating in strategic policy priorities. In the new model departments will be able to select policy outcomes out of a list of options that include themes such as diverse supply chains, skills and employment and inclusion and mental health and well- being. Each outcome will have a set of criteria and suggested evaluation questions. This is intended to have an effect of levelling the playing field to companies of all sizes and encouraging new employment opportunities.
The consultation asks the following questions:
Question 1: Do you agree with the proposed policy metrics in the model in the attached annex? Do you have examples of such metrics being successfully used in public procurement?
Question 2: Do you agree that the proposed minimum 10% weighting for evaluating social value in the bid is appropriate?
Question 3: Does the proposed approach risk creating any barriers to particular sizes or types of bidders, including SMEs or VCSEs? How might these risks be mitigated?
Question 4: How can we ensure government’s existing procurement policy mandates (for example on levelling the playing field for SMEs) take precedence in designing the procurement?
techUK will be submitting a response on behalf of our members. If you are interested in joining the working group to inform our submission, please let Henry Rex know by COP on Friday 12th April.