A new HCT Group policy paper argues that the Act needs more ‘teeth’, that commissioning authorities should account for the steps they have taken to implement the Act and that financial thresholds before contracts must apply the Act be reduced or removed.

The policy paper ‘The Social Value Act – Six Steps to Fulfilment’ is a response to HCT Group’s underwhelming experience of commissioning for social value over the five years since the Act became law. It examines some of the issues with the Act and its implementation, making six recommendations:

Changing the language in the Act: A change from ‘to have regard to social, economic and environmental well-being’, to ‘must have regard to…,’ would give the Act more ‘teeth’, compelling commissioners to take action.

Lowering the financial threshold: This would allow many smaller VCSE companies to compete for contracts in a way that recognised their high levels of added value.

Improve accountability: Making it essential for commissioners to publish their social value policy and a yearly summary. This will encourage commissioners to implement social value initially.

Following through: Ensuring that commissioners have to make reference to the previous social value activities of their supply chains so that organisations ‘deliver on the deliverables.’

Upskilling commissioners: An increased level of training and guidance for commissioners to implement social value appropriately.

The Sixth Case: Changing the Green Book (Treasury guidance on creating policies) from a ’Five Case’ model for government business cases to a ‘Six Case’ model which includes the missing case – social value.

Dai Powell, HCT Group Chief Executive, said in a blog discussing the policy paper “When the Act was passed into law, we were hopeful that it would start to make a real difference in public sector contracts. In pretty much all cases – at least for HCT Group in our transport markets – it has made no significant difference whatsoever. It’s a damp squib.

“A significant proportion of contracts in our market simply ignore social value. It’s just not present… for which there is no excuse… That’s why we’re calling for a change to the wording of the Act.”

You can download the policy paper ‘The Social Value Act – Six Steps to Fulfilment’ here.