Last edited 08 Feb 2021

Social value

The Green Book, Central Government Guidance On Appraisal And Evaluation, Published by HM Treasury in 2020, suggests: ‘Social Value is a measure of total social welfare. As a net value it is the sum of total benefits and total costs to society of a proposal.’ NB The 2018 Green Book defined social value as: ‘…the net measure of total welfare resulting from an option or intervention. Alternatively, it is the sum of total benefits and total costs of an intervention, including private and social costs and benefits.’

It is defined by the Sustainable Procurement Taskforce as: ‘A process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimising damage to the environment.’

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 became law in the spring of 2012. It resulted from a private members bill, the aim of which was to '…strengthen the social enterprise business sector and make the concept of 'social value' more relevant and important in the placement and provision of public services'. It applies to all public services contracts (or framework agreements), and also to those public services contracts which include the purchase or hire of goods or the carrying out of works. NB There is general government support for public bodies considering social value in the award of all contracts, whether they fall within the requirements of the Act or not.

For more information see: Social value act.

In April 2020, UKGBC published Delivering Social Value: Measurement. A guide to measuring the social value of buildings and places.

In September 2020, the government published Procurement Policy Note – Taking Account of Social Value in the Award of Central Government Contracts setting out a new model to deliver social value through government's commercial activities.

NB Social Value and Design of the Built Environment, published by the Supply Chain Sustainability School in 2017, suggests that: ‘Social value has no legal definition. Many clients and stakeholders provide their own (see ‘frequently asked questions’). For the purposes of this document, social value means the direct, positive impacts for people and communities that can be created by going beyond ‘fit for purposebuilt environment design, and creating socially sensitive infrastructure or architecture. It is also about getting more value for money out of procurement.’

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