Social Enterprise UK has renewed calls for an extension of the social value act after research showed that local councils are increasingly embracing the importance of social value within public sector contracts.
In its report Front and Centre – Putting Social Value at the Heart of Inclusive Growth, SEUK says that councils increasingly see social value as an important way to drive economic growth in their local areas.
The report, published today, says 82 per cent of local councils believe social value drives higher levels of growth, while 42 per cent of councils have found that it has reduced social inequalities.
Two-thirds of local councils also have a good understanding of social value, the survey found.
And 45 per cent of survey respondents said that their council had a working social value policy, compared with 24 per cent in 2016.
The report comes as central government has increased its focus on social value in public sector contracts and is evaluating social value across more than £100bn worth of public sector contracts.
The results are based on a survey sent out to local authorities, which received more than 180 responses, and 30 case studies in Suffolk, Sunderland and the London borough of Hackney.
A survey sent to central government departments received only 17 responses and was not used in the research, the report says.
SEUK said the findings showed that the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 should be extended to cover other parts of public sector procurement apart from services.
Social value should also be included in the government’s industrial strategy and other future major policy strategies, SEUK said, and there should be more strategic consideration of social value within councils and regionally.
Staff in the public sector should also be afforded to space and given permission to experiment with social value, SEUK said.
Peter Holbrook, chief executive of SEUK, said: "What we have seen in many parts of the country is strong leaders utilising every tool to boost local economies and spread growth across communities.
"Social value has been critical to this change, creating new jobs and new opportunities. It is having transformative results on the ground. Now that we have proven that social value works, we must place it front and centre in the way that we run our economy."