Social Value Act will not be extended concludes Lord Young

The Social Value Act is not going to be extended until key issues around “awareness, understanding and measurement” are resolved, concludesa  review led by the Prime Minister’s enterprise advisor Lord Young of Graffham.

The Social Value Act review found that where the Act has been taken up in the past two years, it has encouraged "a more holistic approach to commissioning” – but that the number of actual procurements incorporating social value has been low, relative to the number and value of procurements across the whole public sector.

In the report, Lord Young wrote: “I can see the many positive benefits being delivered by the Act where it is operating well, but I believe that these issues of awareness, understanding and measurement should be overcome before an extension of the Act is considered."

CEO of Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) Peter Holbrook said his organisation was “disappointed that there is no statutory guidance underpinning the Act and seemingly little support to extend the Act to goods and works”. 

The Social Value Act was introduced on 31 January 2013 and requires people in England and Wales who commission, or buy, public services to consider securing added economic, social or environmental benefits for their local area. It has been criticised for not proving to be robust enough

At the Social Value Summit held by SEUK in London this month, crossbench peer Lord Victor Adebowale said that the Act “needs to develop and deliver the teeth necessary for it to drive the way in which we deliver services to the public”.

Holbrook said that despite disappointment over Lord Young's apparent lack of enthusiasm, “there remain positive indicators for the country’s growing number of social enterprises in the recommendations”.

The recommendations to raise awareness of the Act include for the Cabinet Office to set up a 'Social Value Steering Group' with NHS England and Public Health England Sustainable Development Unit to ensure social value is more embedded in strategic health commissioning.

Other key recommendations include those to strengthen the framework for measuring and evaluating social value. A Measurement Working Group made up of commissioners, social enterprises, charities and relevant government officials and agencies will develop systems to assess the social benefits of the services contracted by commissioners.

The review recommends that Inspiring Impact, a 10-year collaborative programme managed by NPC, should lead the Working Group.

Head of development at charity think tank and consultancy NPC Tris Lumley said: “In our manifesto we urged government to bring experts together on the question of social value, and make sure that we had an agreed understanding of what the Social Value Act was aiming to achieve. 

“The Inspiring Impact programme already enjoys the support of officials and partners in the charity sector, so I look forward to constructive relationships on this exciting new work as well.”

With the general election in May and a predicted congested parliamentary timetable in the new government’s first 18 months in power, the review group – which included Hazel Blears MP, Chris White MP, North East regional chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses Ted Salmon and CEO of Mentor UK Michael O’Toole – have ruled out any further immediate consideration about extending the Act.

However, they have recommended that a further review be undertaken within the next two years, “to evaluate how much progress has been made against each recommendation, and what more should be done”.


To read the Social Value Act Review in full click here.

Photo credit: University of Nottingham