Public bodies should be required to publish an annual social value statement, Navca says

In its response to the Cabinet Office review of the social value act's effectiveness, the local infrastructure body says there are concerns that contracting authorities are ignoring the legislation

Navca
Navca

Public bodies that commission services should have to publish an annual statement setting out their approach to social value and the effect it has had, according to the local infrastructure body Navca.

The umbrella body’s response to the Cabinet Office review of the effectiveness of the social value act, the legislation that was designed to make it easier for voluntary sector organisations to win public sector contracts by encouraging commissioners to consider the social as well as the monetary value offered by bidders, says that progress has not been as quick as it should have been.

"When the act was introduced, we welcomed the non-prescriptive nature of it, believing that what is required in commissioning and procurement practice is a cultural change, which will not be achieved through more rules and legislation," the submission says.

"However, almost two years on, the gulf between those contracting authorities who have embraced the purpose of the act and those who are simply ticking a box (or doing nothing) causes concern."

It says the act should remain flexible and not overly prescriptive.

"There is, however, a concern that contracting authorities can currently ignore the act, and we feel that there is now a strong case for greater regulatory duties on all public sector bodies to take social value into account without exception," it says.

The three main recommendations in the submission are: contracting authorities should be required to adopt and regularly review a social value strategy; they should publish an annual social value statement outlining its approach to social value and the effect it has had; and they should be prevented from evaluating bids only on price.

"The fact that benefits accrued through social value can be seen to benefit a different department or agency can mean that it is given less focus," it says. "Therefore, a continued focus on place-based commissioning needs to occur."

The act applies only to central government and NHS contracts worth more than £113,057 and local government contracts worth more than £173,934. It applies to contracts for services but not to those for goods.

When the review was launched in September, the Cabinet Office said it would look at whether the legislation should be widened to cover, for example, contracts for goods.

Its findings are due to be published early next year.

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