The government's recent drive to incorporate social values into public procurement

Cabinet Office provides further update on social value in public procurement

07 December 2018

Following the proposal to extend the scope of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 by David Lidington MP in June this year, government has confirmed that it will integrate new measures to achieve social value through procurement by summer 2019.

Incorporating social value into public procurement

The new changes will require government procurements to take into account social and economic benefits in certain priority areas. These changes have been made in order to promote a marketplace which is diverse and accessible - consisting of a range of small and medium sized enterprises, mutuals, charities and social enterprises, as opposed to solely large companies.

Government public procurement priorities for 2019

The government update has announced that by summer 2019 government departments must consider social values in their procurements.

The social values of high priority include:

  • helping access for small businesses into the marketplace
  • helping access for businesses owned by under-represented groups into the marketplace
  • improved representation of disabled people in employment
  • reduced environmental impact
  • the requirement for government suppliers to establish a contingency plan (a living will) which will secure the continuity and maintenance of public services following a failure event (this requirement has been established due to the collapse of outsourcing giant Carillion).

The government further aim to improve the design of outsourcing projects. New complex outsourcing projects will be required to pilot within the private sector, prior to the service being rolled out fully with suppliers. This process will allow projects to build and learn from experience and therefore enable effective public services for taxpayers.

What happens next?

Plans regarding the performance of critical contracts will be published by government shortly. The plans propose to cover contract response rates and provide information on whether contracts are delivering on time.

What remains to be seen is exactly how government intends to implement these changes – and the specific drafting of legislative changes or guidance. Once that emerges, suppliers and contracting authorities will be able to adjust their approach to public procurement activities.

If you have any questions in relation to this article, please contact Patrick Parkin or your usual Burges Salmon contact.

Article written with the support of Alana Rizzuti, legal apprentice.

Key contact

Patrick Parkin

Patrick Parkin Director

  • Healthcare
  • Procurement and State Aid
  • Commercial

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