Responsible and sustainable business practice is not new and many companies have mature strategies to address environmental social and governance issues. However there has been a step change in focus with global challenges such as climate change, and the impact of COVID-19 moving sustainability to the centre of government and business strategy. In the UK the government has introduced Social Value into central government procurement (building on the previous focus on local government) to maximise positive impact on society through its buying power.
What is Social Value?
Social Value is the positive contribution to society that an organisation creates by both how and what it delivers; this can be measured through job creation, skills development, environmental stewardship, inclusive recruitment and supporting the supply chain.
From 1st January 2021, UK Central Government will take account of Social Value when awarding contracts that are subject to the Public Contracts Regulations of 2015. The implementation will be phased for procurements subject to the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011, over six months, with 1st June seeing it fully embedded. The goal of the new measures is to ensure that all government procurement contributes to the support government priorities, to boost growth and productivity, help our communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and tackle climate change. It is based on five core themes:
What difference can Defence and Security organisations make?
In January 2021, QinetiQ hosted and industry-led webinar on Social Value; what it meant to the defence and security sector, putting it into practice and where to get help. During this session, a series of polls gauged industry feeling.
Based on nearly 300 participants, when asked what core pillars of Social Value participants thought our industry sector could add most value to, the majority saw opportunity in economic recovery, equal opportunity and fighting climate change.
This is also highlighted by our second poll, which looked at what is needed to ensure success of this programme, where room to innovate followed by comprehensive guidance was a priority.
How ready are we as an industry?
While it was clear from the conversation that most of the industry, like us, are learning what Social Value really means and how it should be approached. There is certainly some disparity in levels of preparedness, particularly across the supply chain. Our final poll revealed that only 17% of the industry felt well informed so far and nearly half felt under or not informed. To deliver a real change around social value, there is a clear opportunity to continue to raise awareness to support others in the industry.
The panel conversation and the polls indicated that as a sector we have a new opportunity to deliver social value to society and we need to learn the best way to engage our customers, partners and supply chain. Together we can make a big difference and collaboration will be key.
Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing some of the questions and answers captured in our webinar session, as useful resources for all – stay tuned for more!
Help and support
Full UK government guidelines on Social Value Act and the latest guidance and policy information.
To watch our event on replay, please click below to watch on demand or visit our YouTube channel.