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Front and centre: putting social value at the heart of inclusive growth

Social enterprise Social impact Social procurement Public value Local government United Kingdom

The Social Value Act came into force in early 2013, requiring commissioning bodies to think about wider social and environmental benefits when procuring new services. This report examines how social value and specifically the Act is being utilised and how some councils have overcome the perceived challenges of implementation. The report focuses on the extent to which social value has been embedded through processes and priorities within government. It specifically looks at the understanding and awareness of the Act in local government among officers and councillors outside of procurement teams and examined the appetite to use the Act.

Key findings:

  1. Two-thirds of local councils now have a good understanding of social value.
  2. 82% of local councils believe that social value drives higher levels of growth.
  3. 42% of local councils said that social value has reduced social inequalities.
  4. 45% of survey respondents reported having a social value policy - a large increase from 24% of councils in 2016.


  1. The Central Government should lead by example. In particular, it should extend the Social Value Act to cover goods and works as well as services to catch up with existing best practice.
  2. In order to drive inclusive growth, social value needs to be considered more strategically at all scales whether that is ward level, within councils or regionally.
  3. Government leaders (both central and local) must create a culture where staff have permission to experiment with social value.
  4. The Local Government Association (LGA) should make social value part of the Peer Challenge.
  5. All public bodies should shape social value solutions with their community and providers through regular forums and training events, active and continuous contract management and clear communication of social value priorities.



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