Back to the Knowledge hub

Public sector bids and social value: all you need to know

We know it’s something else to get your head around, but social value is an increasingly key part of the procurement process!

A few months ago we published an infographic on 5 things to be aware of when it comes to the topic of social value within public sector bids. If you missed this, you can read the contents and download your own copy here. It proved very handy to a lot of suppliers, so we wanted to take the time to expand more on it!


What is social value?

Let’s start by going back to basics – social value refers to the wider economic, social, and environmental benefits a project can generate. In the case of public sector procurement, we’re looking beyond the immediate goods or services being procured. Social value can encompass a wide range of factors, from job creation to sustainability, and from community engagement to diversity and inclusion.


Why is it important and what does it have to do with tech procurement?

The UK Government has placed increasing importance on this topic in recent years, and the act of procuring third-party products and services means they need to assess suppliers too. The UK Social Value Act 2012 requires public sector organizations to consider how they can secure wider social, economic, and environmental benefits in their procurement activities. Suppliers must be able to demonstrate how their proposals will deliver social value, and be able to provide evidence to support their claims. Public sector bodies want to see your plan for things like Net Zero before awarding contracts. This is likely to intensify with the Government’s newly released Energy Plan.

Social value can also help to promote greater transparency and accountability in public procurement by making it easier to measure and report on the wider impact of contracted projects. Technology specifically is playing an increasingly important role in shaping our society, therefore it has the potential to deliver significant social value. For example, technology solutions can support the development of smart cities, increase access to education and healthcare, and promote greater social inclusion. In addition, the technology sector has an important role to play in creating jobs and supporting economic growth.

Whether you’re hot on making a difference to the wider community or not, social value can be a key differentiator between you and competitors on a bid framework. In many cases, bids that demonstrate a strong commitment to delivering social value are more likely to be successful. You’ll definitely be setting yourself apart from competitors who may not have the same level of focus on delivering long-term benefits for society!


How will my bids be assessed?

The exact approach to assessing social value can vary depending on the specific procurement framework and the requirements of the procurement project. Evaluation criteria might include factors such as the impact of the proposal on the local community, its environmental sustainability, or its contribution to the local economy. More often than not you’ll find the Social Value Model being used to do this. It was created in 2020 specifically for public sector procurement with an aim to strengthen social value measurement. The 5 main themes it uses are:

  • COVID-19 recovery;
  • Tackling economic inequality;
  • Fighting climate change;
  • Equal opportunity;
  • and Wellbeing.


It is highly likely that bidders will be required to demonstrate how their proposal would deliver against these criteria, and these responses will then be scored.


Other factors to consider

The following points were included in our infographic mentioned earlier. You can take a look and download a copy for yourself here – it will be helpful to have on hand to give quick pointers for your future bids!



Suppliers should be realistic about their ability to deliver and not over-promise or exaggerate their capabilities. At the same time, buyers will be looking for specificity in how commitments will be delivered, with clear and measurable targets. Basically, no flowery language!



Suppliers should be prepared to demonstrate the actual impact of their social value commitments, both during and after the contract period, to ensure that they are delivering the social value they have promised.



The public sector organisation you are bidding to win a contract with will have its own set of priorities. Suppliers should show how their social value commitments align and how they can contribute to achieving the organization’s strategic goals.



Public sector suppliers must make sure they are compliant with all the laws and regulations that are related to social value, such as the Modern Slavery Act, the Equality Act, and the procurement regulations.


Overall, public sector suppliers need to be aware of the growing importance of social value. You should also recognise this is not just a product of the procurement process – topics such as environmental and social sustainability are at the forefront of almost every industry right now (and if not, they arguably should be!).

As a supplier, you should be prepared to demonstrate how your solutions can deliver broader benefits beyond their immediate aims. By doing so, you’ll not only be meeting requirements, but increasing your chances of winning contracts and making a positive contribution to society!

Related resources

You may also be interested in