Report says some social sector providers struggle to demonstrate social value

Cabinet Office document says there is some way to go in getting commissioners and providers to engage with the social value act

Cabinet Office
Cabinet Office

Some social sector providers are struggling to demonstrate the social value of their activities to commissioners, a Cabinet Office report on the first year of the social value act has found.

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which came into effect on 31 January 2013, requires central government and NHS commissioners to take into account "economic, social and environmental wellbeing" when seeking to purchase services from suppliers.

The report, The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012: One Year On, gives examples of good practice and says the government has been encouraged by the "wave of activity there has been outside of government to support commissioners to embed social value in their procurement activity".

But although commissioners are "increasingly thinking innovatively about social value", it says, there is further to go in getting commissioners and providers to engage with the act.

"Some providers who could bring added social value to the table find it difficult to demonstrate that added value to commissioners," it says.

The report says that some commissioners are "held back by uncertainty" while others are yet to "be inspired as to the potential of embedding social value in the work they do". Some commissioners have found it difficult to access support to understand the act, it says.

A survey by the umbrella body Social Enterprise UK, published yesterday, highlighted the need for social sector organisations to receive more help in understanding how to benefit from measures in the act.

The Cabinet Office pledged to further support social sector organisations by extending its programme of commercial masterclasses, through a Cabinet Office-funded Inspiring Impact programme and a mystery shopper service that will investigate cases where providers believe commissioners have not followed the act.

"As we move into the second year of the act being in force, the government will do more to tackle these barriers," the report says. "We will do so under the guiding principle that the shift in thinking on social value that we have already started to see needs to continue to be led by commissioners and providers themselves, with support from Whitehall."

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