Awareness of social value act 'not high enough', white paper says

The report by Social Enterprise UK (Nick Temple, director of business, pictured) and the training provider Landmarc says social value should be an obligation, not a consideration

Nick Temple
Nick Temple

Awareness of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 is "still not high enough" among key decision-makers, according to a white paper published today.

The Future of Social Value, published by Social Enterprise UK and the training and infrastructure provider Landmarc, says there has been some progress in the uptake of the act, which requires that local authorities consider social value when procuring services.

But it warns that there is still little awareness of the act. "While awareness is rising, it is still not high enough among key decision-makers, particularly in public sector agencies – not only commissioners, but also procurement, financial and legal staff," the report says.

The report says that even where awareness has improved, few providers of services at tender stage can say that "social value", rather than economic or environmental factors, is the reason for winning new business.

The report says that decision-makers are prioritising value and localism legislation ahead of the social value act.

Nick Temple, director of business at Social Enterprise UK, said in a statement: "In one year the act has lit a touch-paper, but there is still much to do if its potential is to be realised."

The white paper says that the act should be given more teeth by making it an "obligation" rather than a "consideration" to take social value into account.

The authors also call for improved training and support on social value and add that the government should issue guidance to ensure a consistency of approach towards the legislation.

Mat Roberts, head of sustainability at Landmarc, said in a statement: "Social value is not just about working with social enterprises; it is also about understanding how you can create social value as a business. Sometimes it is more worthwhile working with a local small and medium-sized enterprise in a small rural community than a social enterprise from the next city. It is about localisation as well as social purpose."

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