The report titled “Front and Centre, Putting Social Value at the Heart of Inclusive Growth” by Social Enterprise UK, has found that local councils are increasingly using procurement to drive higher economic growth. It calls on central government, local councils and other public bodies to do more to use social value and put it at the front and centre of decision making.
Based on in-depth research across local government, the report shows a growing use of social value – making spending decisions not just on financial cost but on the economic, social and environmental impact.
According to the report, 82% of local councils believe that spending public money focusing on social value, rather than just focusing on the cheapest product, generates higher levels of growth. Sunderland, one of the case studies referenced in the report, was one of the fastest growing cities in the UK in 2018. Two-fifths of councils also believe that a social value approach can reduce inequalities.
The benefits of social value and using public money strategically are being recognised more by local councils and the research calls on more to be done to embed social value into all aspects of decision making, using it as a driver of inclusive growth. The report also urges for more support for local councils to measure and report on the value that they are creating in order to continue to drive better performance.
The report calls on central government to change the law so that it catches up with best practice and spreads the benefits of social value across the country. This could be done quickly by extending the Public Services (Social Value) Act which was passed by the Coalition Government in 2012.