Government review of Social Value Act welcomed by Social Economy Alliance

News item posted: 17 March 2017

The Government's plan to review and potentially extend the Social Value Act has been welcomed by the Social Economy Alliance, the campaign group for social enterprises and cooperatives.

The review, launched today by the Cabinet Office and the PM's Advisor on Enterprise Lord Young, follows the release of the Alliance's manifesto, which calls for the strengthening and extension of the Social Value Act to goods, works, infrastructure and public assets.

The Alliance says the extension of the Act would help to ensure that UK public services and infrastructure work in the best interest of communities and service users, and that public money can be spent with companies that provide the greatest social and environmental value, pay a living wage and are open about their tax arrangements.

Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, a lead partner in the Alliance, said:

"We're pleased the Government is listening to our calls to strengthen the Social Value Act. The Act is still in its infancy, but already it is transforming the public service landscape for the benefit of communities. It is helping to eradicate a commissioning culture that selects providers based on price alone and that often results in substandard services."

"But more can be done to ensure social value is engrained in public service commissioning. Public money must only be spent on the most socially responsible firms. Public service budgets have shrunk dramatically in recent years, so every ounce of the government's enormous spending power - £227bn - must be channelled into providers that put communities and people first, not private profit."

"Strengthening the Act is in the public's interest and vital to help the UK face the economic and social challenges that lie ahead."

The Social Value Act

The campaign for the Social Value Act was led by Social Enterprise UK, a founding partner in the Social Economy Alliance. The Act, implemented in January 2013, is already affecting the way in which public services are commissioned. It requires public bodies to consider the social and environmental value created by providers when awarding contracts.

Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of The University of Northampton, a lead partner in the Alliance said:

"The Government's latest commitment to social value is very encouraging. The proposed review of the Social Value Act is a real step forward and we hope it leads to the strengthening and extension of this vital piece of legislation.

"The University of Northampton has been campaigning hard to persuade all types of organisation, as well as other universities, to embed social value into their procurement practices and supply chains. We will continue to lobby for the UK's vast spending power to deliver social impact for the benefit of all."

Dai Powell, HCT Group Chief Executive, a lead partner in the Alliance said:

"The Social Value Act was an important first step, creating real social impact for communities and commissioners alike. This review is a timely opportunity to go further. "Where the Act is working well, commissioners are using procurement to deliver their community strategies; where the Act is working less well, commissioners are approaching it in a spirit of dumb compliance and it is a real missed opportunity. If commissioners were required to develop and publish full strategies for using procurement to benefit their community, then this would give the Act some much needed teeth."

ENDS

Download the Social Economy Alliance manifesto here - http://www.socialenterprise.org.uk/public/uploads/editor/Social-Economy-Alliance-2015-Manifesto.pdf

The Social Economy Alliance is a new voice on the economy (www.socialeconomyalliance.org.uk). More than 400 social enterprises, co-operatives, universities, housing associations, crowd-funders, social investors, think tanks and charities have come together to form the group.

Lead partners include: Social Enterprise UK; The Social Investment Forum (through Big Society Capital); Social Investment Business The School for Social Entrepreneurs; UnLtd; The Young Foundation; The University of Northampton; First Ark Group; Co-operatives UK; Locality; the New Economics Foundation; the Community Development Finance Association; Fusion 21; PM Training; Sandwell Community Caring Trust; Unity Trust Bank; Buzzbnk; CAN; Impetus PEF; Turning Point; HCT Group; the Wales Co-op Centre; Supporters Direct, The cooperative energy; Belu; GLL.

Social Value Act

This new law, which received Royal Assent on 8th March 2012 and was implemented on 31 January 2013 calls for all public service commissioning to factor in social value. For the first time, all public bodies in England and Wales, including local authorities, will be required to consider how the services they commission and procure might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area.

Together with its members, Social Enterprise UK were instrumental in ensuring that the Public Services Bill became law, and have been recognised by the Third Sector Excellence Awards for our achievements, winning Big Impact of the Year Award 2012.