New guidance issued by the Treasury that calls on government departments to assess the "social value" of their funding decisions could create more opportunities for local voluntary organisations, according to the local infrastructure umbrella body Navca.
A note has been added to the Treasury’s Green Book, the government handbook on policy appraisal and evaluation, stressing the importance of evaluating the social impact of policies.
It says: "The full value of goods such as health, family and community stability, educational success and environmental assets, cannot be inferred from market prices, but we should not neglect such important impacts in decision-making."
Katy Wing, director of improving local services at Navca, says the new guidance means that criteria set out in government tenders should take into account social as well as economic benefits.
"The government should be looking at wider community benefits when procuring goods and services – for example, the wider social and environmental impact", she said.
"It will depend on how well it is implemented. In theory, the guidance should present more opportunities for local voluntary and community organisations, because it should mean departments assess the impact of keeping services local, spending money locally and using volunteers from the local community".