Brexit could bring sharper focus on social value in commissioning, says review

A report for Social Enterprise UK by ex-Tory MP Chris White, who introduced the social value act, makes five recommendations for reforming the legislation

Brexit could "open up space" to new commissioning and procurement rules that focus more on social value, according to a new review of the social value act.

The review, Our Money, Our Future, launched officially today, is based on work conducted for Social Enterprise UK by the former Conservative MP Chris White, who introduced the original Public Services (Social Value) Act as a private member’s bill in 2011.

White’s report, which comes after a government-backed review completed in 2015, says Brexit will "surely eventually open up new opportunities for reforming the legal framework for commissioning and procurement in the UK", with greater freedom to change competition, procurement and state-aid laws.

There could also be more opportunity for favouring local providers in commissioning and procurement once the UK has left the European Union, the review says.

"While many of us are divided in terms of our views on Brexit, we can all be united in looking forward to a future where public money is spent in a way which better balances short-term financial considerations against the broader interest over the long term, which encourages collaboration and takes into account quality of life, the environment and the specific circumstances of diverse communities across the UK," it says. "That would be real value for money."

The report makes five recommendations for reforming the act, including expanding it to include planning, assets and wider infrastructure, as well as goods and works, and changing the term "consider" to "account for" in the language of the legislation.

The review recommends including social value in devolution agreements, providing clear statutory guidance on the use of social value and conducting a biennial audit of social value, which should be independent of but supported by government.

The main recommendations are in line with comments made to Third Sector by White about his review last month.

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