Public procurement will play an important role in reviving the economy and communities in the aftermath of Covid-19. This is already increasing the importance of social value in the way that contracts are tendered and bids are scored. The best advice is to embrace this trend rather than see it as an added complication or hurdle.
Twelve or so months ago Covid-19 was an unclassified illness that had broken out in a part of China. None of us could have forecast the devastating impact it would have - and is still having - on lives and businesses around the globe. But the human spirit is resilient - economies and communities will be remade.
Outside of the world of materials and services procured specifically to combat the virus (which is territory I have no intention of venturing into) the Government seems determined that future contracts procured with public funds should help the process of recovery. Social value is very much on the agenda, with an emphasis on how projects can deliver additional outcomes that will help communities and people affected by Covid-19.
Build on the Positive Experiences While the pandemic brought out the worst in a few people, it also brought out the best in many. It has caused countless people to reappraise their relationships with their neighbours and the places where they live. There’s a tremendous opportunity to build on this community spirit and redouble our efforts to help each other get through difficult times.
Many businesses are part of this and, despite the economic challenges, are doing what they can to help local charities and community organisations. It won’t be their primary motivation, but proving their sincere commitment to delivering social value will hardly be a difficult task when it comes to the next tender.
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 already places a requirement on relevant contract authorities to consider social value. The recent Social Value in Government Procurement consultation white paper seeks to go further, requiring central government to formally take account of social impact as part of the contract award criteria. There is an explicit link being made between government funded projects and helping the post-Covid recovery.
How to Respond Will simply fulfilling the minimum criteria now be sufficient? Or should firms pro-actively seek out ways of going above and beyond?
The actions I’d be taking right now are these:
Audit and document current social value activities and commitments. If nothing else, this will make it easier when you’re asked the question in the next RFQ.
Evaluate activities against the current situation and priorities. Are you fully addressing Covid-19 related issues and communities?
Draw up a social value plan or charter and communicate it inside and outside of your business to make a visible commitment.
I don’t think we’ve yet seen the full extent of how social value will be added to the award criteria. Increasingly, firms will find it desirable and necessary to be both creative and expansive in how they demonstrate and measure the social value they add to projects.
The options are almost endless: from genuine equal opportunities for employment and training, greater use of very local supply chains, involvement in community schemes and so on. What you won’t be able to do is pay lip service or ignore it.
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.