Cabinet Office to make new delivery model for social value mandatory for central government procurements

The Cabinet Office has launched a new model for delivering social value through government’s commercial activities.

The procurement policy note, which can be viewed here, says that social value should be explicitly evaluated in all central government procurement, where the requirements are related and proportionate to the subject-matter of the contract, rather than just ‘considered’ as currently required under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012.

“Unnecessary burdens should not be placed on commercial teams or suppliers,” it insists.

The new model, which is set out as Annex A to the PPN and has been updated to reflect the impact of COVID-19, articulates for commercial teams the areas of priority focus for social value delivery in central government procurement, in the form of policy themes and outcomes.

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“From this menu, commercial teams should select objectives that are relevant and proportionate to their procurement, for example creating employment opportunities for those who face barriers such as prison-leavers,” the PPN says, adding that detailed guidance on application of the model would be published shortly.

“This will provide buyers with comprehensive standardised information to accompany each of the outcomes so they can be seamlessly included in the procurement, including standard award criteria, delivery objectives that describe ‘what good looks like’, and metrics for contract management and reporting.”

The PPN says this consistency means the process for defining social value would be standardised. “It provides a clear, systematic way to evaluate these priority policies in the award of a contract.”

Evaluation of the social value aspect of bids should be qualitative so all potential suppliers, including SMEs, VCSEs and those new to government business, can successfully bid by describing what they will deliver and how they will deliver it (i.e. it is the quality of what is being offered that will count in the evaluation, not the quantity), the policy note adds.

Application of the model will be mandatory in central government but the PPN says commercial teams will retain flexibility in deciding which of the outcomes should be applied to their particular procurement to ensure relevance and proportionality.

A minimum weighting of 10% of the total score for social value should be applied in the procurement “to ensure that it carries a heavy enough score to be a differentiating factor in bid evaluation; a higher weighting can be applied if justified”.

The Cabinet Office is making training products available to support implementation of the model in central government.

The PPN applies to procurements covered by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and applies to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies.

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