Why is social value important?
Even if you have worked with the public sector in the past, this does not guarantee future wins.
In recent years, public sector procurement has changed and social value has become more important than ever before. That said, suppliers must be willing to do more to help improve society and tackle issues such as modern slavery and climate change.
Learn more about what the UK Government and other public sector organisations will be considering when granting contracts below.
Social value and government procurement measures
At the end of 2018 Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington (former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) announced new government procurement measures. with social value in mind.
With UK central government spending £49bn with third-party organisations every year, Mr Lidington wanted taxpayers and small firms in particular to benefit from this expenditure. He said:
“We are determined to build a society where people from all parts of our country have access to the best public services.
“Public services should be delivered with values at their heart… it is right that we use government’s purchasing power to benefit society.”
Now, when drawing up future public sector contracts, buyers are expected to consider:
- Businesses that employ people from diverse backgrounds
- Companies that are tackling cyber security risks in their supply chains
- Businesses with a focus on environmental sustainability
- Firms that are investing in their employees’ skills through staff training
- Firms that are committed to eliminating modern slavery
Modern slavery exists across many sectors, including construction, agriculture and catering. To tackle this, the public sector is becoming more wary of suppliers who drive the price down during the bidding process.
Bidding wars are not the only concern, as suppliers with unethical working environments may also lose out on government contracts in the future.
How can suppliers win more public sector opportunities?
One of the most common questions asked by organisations wishing to win public sector business is how can they increase their chances of success and win more business? The answer is: deliver a compliant bid, that keeps you in the running and then add in socio-economic and environmental benefits to your solution that are closely linked to its delivery to increase your chances of winning. In marketplaces where there are a large number of suppliers that provide broadly similar solutions and where it’s challenging to differentiate them, this takes on even greater significance. Whilst it’s simple to articulate, I appreciate that it’s seldom easy to deliver. To that end, please see the checklist below that I hope will help stimulate discussion
around this topic and help you to improve and articulate the socio-economic and environmental benefits that you’re able to deliver:
• Determine what your organisation already delivers that could strengthen a bid in terms of socio-economic and environmental benefits.
• Create case studies that show the socio-economic and environmental benefits you’ve already delivered and use these in your bids and proposals.
• Create/develop links with local charities/community groups to help deliver socio-economic and environmental benefits and articulate these in your bids and proposals.
• Develop your supply chain to work with local, third sector or social enterprise groups, and try where possible to ensure that the goods, works and services that you buy come from ethical and sustainable sources and that you’re able to explain this in your bids and proposals, and that you
can back this up.
• Create programmes to deliver apprenticeships, work experience, employment of the long term unemployed, provide flexible working opportunities, etc.
• Staff training and development – show that this is part of your core ethos and that you will apply or increase this through the delivery of the opportunity that you’re bidding for.
• Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy – if you don’t already have one, create a CSR policy now that encapsulates everything that you’re doing in terms of the delivery of social, economic and environmental benefits, and that you’re carrying out your business in an ethical way.
• Look at legal cases, case studies, past bids and above all positively engage the buyers.
Are you engaging with the public sector?
In the latest report by Cadence Marketing, “Are Socio-Economic and Environmental Value Deliverable in Public Procurement?”, Phil Kinnell, Senior Consultancy and Training Manager, PASS Procurement recommends that suppliers use early engagement to tackle challenges around social value:
“For a supplier, the challenge of achieving these socio-economic and environmental benefits is firstly to check that you understand and respond appropriately to these elements, which are increasingly common in public sector procurement exercises; and secondly, is to work with the public sector in a proactive way to help them apply sustainability where it is most effective and efficient to do so. That is something that the public sector cannot do alone.
This collaborative approach can be instigated by the public sector where they engage the marketplace for advice when they are forming their specification and approach to procurements, but I would recommend being as proactive as possible by engaging the public sector through existing relationships or via effective early engagement…”
Would you like to learn more about how your business can win work with the public sector?
Find out how early engagement can help your business plan, influence and compete to stay ahead in the market by registering for a free trial of DCI.