Following the publication of PPN 06/20, on 30 November Cabinet Office published the Social Value Model, together with the “Guide to using the Social Value Model”. The Guide provides more detail on delivering social value through government procurement using the Model. A summary of PPN 06/20 can be found here.

The Model contains “Model Award Criteria” built around five “themes” and eight “policy outcomes”. The Model includes model questions, guidance for suppliers and details of the reporting metrics to be used to measure supplier performance.

The Guide provides more information around how the Model should be used. A few key themes come out of the Guide:

Central monitoring

The Model is mandatory for “in-scope organisations” (Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies), who must now expressly evaluate social value as part of procurements which are subject to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR). This obligation is supported and enforced by mandatory training for staff, monitoring through Cabinet Office spend controls and spot-checks by the Public Procurement Review Service.

Clear links to the relevant contract

The social value criteria selected must be “relevant to the subject matter of the contract” and it is up to in-scope organisations to determine the applicable criteria. However, the Guide makes clear that Cabinet Office expects at least one of the policy outcomes in the Model to be applicable to all procurements, other than in exceptional cases.

The Guide discourages organisations making amendments to the Model, partly to avoid unnecessary burdens on the supply chain and in-scope organisations can use the Model as a “menu” of options for delivering social value. However, interested suppliers cannot assume that they will be able to roll out standard answers detailing their national CSR programmes – the Guide makes clear that corporate-level CSR does not “count” for these purposes. Social value must be relevant to the contract in question

Public procurement principles apply

The Guide emphasises the key touchpoints of proportionality, non-discrimination and equal treatment that commercial and procurement teams must apply throughout the procurement life-cycle, from planning and pipeline to contract management. These principles should already be familiar to in-scope organisations

The Guide reminds in-scope organisations that the questions, award criteria and approach must not discriminate against non-UK suppliers, although organisations may adjust the evaluation criteria to relate to particular geographic locations.

Record-keeping is key

The importance of record keeping is evident from the Guide and this ties in with the requirements of the PCR. An in-scope organisation should ensure that it maintains robust record-keeping procedures to ensure that, at each stage of the procurement life-cycle, it has given active consideration to the themes and outcomes set out in the Model, which are most applicable and how it will meet these. The records should also demonstrate how the organisation has applied the approach in a way that is proportionate, non-discriminatory and treats suppliers equally.  

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