A review of the Social Value Act has found it has had a “positive impact” but barriers exist around awareness, take-up, understanding and measurement.
The review, carried out by Lord Young, recommends the Cabinet Office should promote social value across the public sector and business, support improved measurement and evaluation of social value, and issue a paper on what each central government department has achieved to date concerning it.
In a report Lord Young said the threshold for contracts to which the Social Value Act applies would remain at £111,676 for central government and £172,514 for other bodies, rather than rise to €750,000 (£557,685), which is the OJEU threshold for social services contracts under the incoming Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015).
“Under the PCR 2015 many health, social care and education services will fall under a new ‘light touch’ regime with a threshold of €750,000. One of the effects of this would have been to raise the threshold of the Social Value Act for these services to €750,000, unintentionally taking many of these contracts out of scope of the act,” said the report.
Concerning the extension of the act to cover goods and works, rather than just services, Young said “despite its growing awareness among public bodies, the incorporation of social value in actual procurements appears to be relatively low when consider against the number and value of procurements across the whole public sector”.
“This has made it difficult for the review to make a comprehensive assessment or a definitive recommendation about the grounds to extend the act at this stage,” he said.
The report said: “It is important to highlight that commissioners are already permitted to consider social value as widely as they wish, and the review found several examples of commissioners finding great benefit in applying it to goods and works and below the OJEU threshold.”
The report also recommends a “social value steering group” is set up by NHS England and Public Health England to get “social value more embedded in strategic health commissioning”.
The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force in January 2013.