15 February 2024

Demonstrating Social Value

Have you often thought of social value as ‘fluff’? Have you raced through social value questions as quickly as possible, focusing on other parts of your bid?  You wouldn’t be alone. Many tenderers consider social value a hoop to jump through and a pain to incorporate into their financial packet, consequently paying little attention to a robust social value offer. Yet, ignoring it carries much further implications than you might have realised and could even harm your chances of winning. Here’s why and how you should demonstrate social value in your next bid.

What is Social Value?

Social value is the measure of the positive contributions of an organisation on the environment, economy, and community. It is distinct from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR tends to focus on the internal policies you have (e.g. a Carbon Reduction Plan), whereas social value looks at initiatives you’re carrying out externally (e.g. providing work experience or training for local residents). Social value is about doing good because it’s the right thing to do, which has the added benefit of greatly boosting your organisation’s reputation in the eyes of commissioners.

Why is Social Value Important?

It’s a legal requirement

Social value has gained more importance over the last few years, partially spearheaded by the introduction of the Social Value Act 2012, legally requiring public procurement to place a minimum 10% weighting on social value in the quality questions. Some local authorities (e.g. Manchester City Council) have even chosen to give all tenders a minimum 20% weighting with a further 10% on environmental value. That’s a whopping 30%! Where tenderers achieve a similar score in the financial element, getting a good score on these sections could therefore be the swing you need to win.

Even more recently, the UK Procurement Act 2023 (expected to come into force in Autumn 2024) requires suppliers to tangibly demonstrate their delivery to social value commitments. This leaves you with little wiggle room, as continually failing to meet social value targets could now see you debarred from bidding for future opportunities.

It’s a chance to add value

Putting together considered social value commitments during your solution design phase opens up the chance to significantly enhance your quality responses. You’ll be able to demonstrate added value beyond day-to-day service delivery, benefitting the commissioner in the long-term, and giving you the edge over competitors.

It presents an opportunity to localise

Localisation, localisation, localisation. It’s not quite as catchy as the classic TV show, but it’s the key to a successful bid. Social value helps you to localise your offer, as you’ll need to tailor your commitments to local social and environmental plans to show you understand what is important to the commissioner. This attention to the commissioner’s needs could help you unseat a long-standing incumbent, as you’ll be able to use local knowledge in all elements of the quality responses, not only social value.


 Bottom line: it really isn’t worth the risk of ignoring or underestimating social value. 


How to Demonstrate Social Value

Be specific

Commissioners will be looking for initiatives and commitments that help strengthen local industries, businesses, spaces, and communities. To successfully demonstrate this, you’ll need to be specific about what you’re going to offer and how you’re going to deliver it. If you say you’ll support local supply chains, specify the percentage that you’ll allocate to local resource, which elements will be sourced locally, who you have/will approach, and how you’ll go about create working agreements with local suppliers. Providing a clear approach and targets for delivery will show commissioners that you’re committed.

Collate evidence

By collating your social value delivery achievements and KPIs on previous contracts, you won’t only be meeting your legal obligations, you’ll also be creating a ready supply of case studies and examples. These will significantly boost your scores in the quality element, serving as evidence to the commissioner that you can deliver on your promises.

However, measuring and keeping track of social value can be complex, draining time and energy from your team. Using contract management software (such as our in-house offer, ContractsWise) to track your initiatives from the get-go will simplify the process of demonstrating your social value, alleviating the headache of collating data from multiple locations and individuals. When you need to evidence your social value, it’ll be right there waiting for you.


Unsure where to start? Get in touch! If you’re overwhelmed or unsure how to get started, get in touch with our team; we’ll be happy to help you demonstrate your social value to win more contracts.