23 Nov 2023

Improving Social Value in Technology Procurement

techUK has today launched a new report - Improving Social Value in Technology Procurement

techUK's Public Services Board (PSB) in partnership with Henham Strategy, is delighted to publish this report which articulates industry's concerns about how the policy for social value is operating within central government technology procurement. 

Social value has been a requirement in public sector procurement since 2013, and a determinant of public procurement outcomes since 2020. Great progress has been made by central government in its understanding of how best to procure data and technology solutions, however techUK members are concerned that the current social value model is not delivering on the government's objectives. 

While the policy might be easily applied in some sectors of the government's supply chain, this report notes that there is a nuance required for its application in the tech sector. 


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techUK's Central Recommendation 

The Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office should undertake a full evaluation of how the social value model is performing against its objectives and providing value for money. Any such assessment should look at the ease with which different sectors are able to deliver social value objectives. 

The industry and techUK members currently believe there is inconsistent understanding, application and commitment to the policy by procuring authorities. This not only impacts on supplier confidence in the appropriateness and faireness of tender specification and evalutation, it also leaves suppliers concerned that social policy outcomes will not be delivered. 


The challenges and opportunities for social value

Prevailing social value procurement challenges include the lack of…

  • A clear understanding and application of social value. For example, COVID-19 is still published as a key social value consideration for buyers – it should be removed.
  • A clear framework for measuring and evaluating social value.
  • Guidance on how to integrate social value into procurement processes.
  • Meaningful engagement between officials and suppliers to identify social value criteria that are tech sector relevant, measurable and deliverable.
  • Appropriate specification of social value requirements within tender requirements and monitoring the delivery of social value elements for tech goods and services.
  • Consistency of approach across departments.
  • Parliamentary scrutiny of social value.

Social Value procurement opportunities include…

  • The growing support and interest in social value from the tech industry.
  • The increasing availability of data and metrics on social value.
  • The development of new tools and techniques for measuring and evaluating social value.
  • The growing recognition of the importance of social value by politicians and civil servants.
“Social value is a policy that all members of techUK’s Public Services Board support.  The companies we represent all wish to bring wider and deeper value and social impact to our UK communities, addressing societally important issues in ways that best harness the strengths of the UK’s tech sector. This report succinctly captures where supplier challenges and concerns exist alongside those opportunities to improve implementation.  Early pre-procurement engagement and through contract life collaboration between procuring authorities and suppliers is key. Our board is therefore pleased that a joint Cabinet Office and techUK Social Value committee is working together to improve policy adoption and implementation by procurers and suppliers alike.”

Simon Godfrey

Chair of techUK's Public Services Board

“The prize for getting social value in tech procurement right will both have greater positive impact across the Government’s social value priorities, because of a more cohesive approach, and will also see the lowering of social value as a barrier to greater SME involvement in public procurements. This report serves to government the first step to get the Social Value Framework right. We will continue to work closely with both government and our members to ensure we address the challenges the sector currently faces.”

Matt Evans

Director of Markets, techUK

Heather Cover-Kus

Heather Cover-Kus

Head of Central Government Programme, techUK

Ellie Huckle

Ellie Huckle

Programme Manager, Central Government, techUK

Austin Earl

Austin Earl

Programme Manager, Central Government, techUK

Annie Collings

Annie Collings

Programme Manager, Cyber Security and Central Government, techUK

Ella Gago-Brookes

Team Assistant, Markets, techUK


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