Government appoints first social value ambassador

Chris White, the Conservative MP who championed the social value act, aims to help open more public sector contracts to charities

Chris White MP
Chris White MP

Chris White, the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, has been appointed as the government’s first social value ambassador.

White, who introduced the private members’ bill that became the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, will work with local authorities and the voluntary sector to raise awareness of the act, which came into force this year with cross-party support.

The aim of the act is to open up more public sector contracts to voluntary organisations, social enterprises and small businesses.

Under the legislation, local authority commissioners must consider how they can improve the social impact of their public service contracts before they start the procurement process.

White’s role will be to encourage and oversee an improvement in the social, environmental and economic impact of public service contracts, a statement from the Cabinet Office said.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, announced the new role today at the Social Value Conference, organised by Social Enterprise West Midlands in Birmingham.

"Chris White has played a pivotal role in developing the ground-breaking social value act. His vision has helped ensure that public sector contracts will deliver maximum value to our communities and that taxpayer’s money is spent as efficiently and effectively as possible on public services," said Hurd.

In a statement, White said: "I look forward to championing this important act and the principles behind it. I look forward to working with stakeholders in local government and the public sector as well as engaging with civil society organisations and social enterprises on the ground to see how we can make sure that this act reaches its full potential."

Ben Kernighan, deputy chief executive of National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said: "The creation of this post is very welcome news at a time when we were beginning to worry about the pace at which the act is being taken up.

"Charities contribute a huge amount to their communities and many could help to transform public services if they were able to compete for contracts on a more level playing field. I’m confident that Chris will be a relentless advocate for the principles of social value in all public sector procurement."

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, also welcomed White’s appointment and said he had been an "extraordinary champion for social value".

Jenna Pudelek

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Social Enterprise West Midlands

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