Beyond Ticking Boxes: Navigating the Future of Procurement with Social Value and Carbon Consciousness

31st January 2024
Public Sector Sales, Tenders

Almost all procurements include Social Value these days and carry an attributable scoring of 5-10%. Sadly most of the work counts are still 500 words with only the occasional question reaching up to 1000 words.

Not only is it difficult to demonstrate what your company does and how it does it, with so few words – but it also becomes more “statement orientated” rather than a free text, explanative response where powerful and insightful business practices can be learned about the potential supplier.

All is not lost however as in late 2024, Crown Commercial Services has announced a plan to remove the MEAT (most economically advantageous tender) in favour of MAT (most advantageous tender). Whilst I think there will be SOME commercial scoring for tenders, it is my opinion that it will be limited to a nominal percentage of 25/30%. I also expect there to be a shift in the thinking of some authorities to ask suppliers to demonstrate compliance with their values and objectives. Where councils have a strong green initiative, I would envisage similar questions to be present in the tenders, with a focus on carbon reduction plans and commitments.

I’ve already seen four tenders in January 2024 where the authorities are asking suppliers to make pledges as part of the contract including several roles, work experiences, trees planted, biodiversity support and more. Not just as a one-off either, but for the length of the contract. There was one tender that mandated that 1% of the contract spend or £3000, whichever was the greater, be invested in local social value projects.

Anyone, any company can give money to charities and support local projects. When you look a little deeper at the scoring matrix though, there are things that stand out.

  • Work/recruitment – particularly for those in long-term unemployment, rehabilitating young offenders
  • Work experience for under 18’s and college
  • Gifting your time and expertise to support the third sector

Giving money is the lowest scoring across all elements – including funding biodiversity projects, supporting the vulnerable, and so on.

By saying that you’re delivering social value, councils are going to ask for proof. I can foresee a future where authorities ask suppliers KPI compliance, and certificates of recycling for example, as part of their standard contract management processes. As a supplier, the services that you deliver will carry a cost both in carbon as well as a monetary charge. It’s important to recognize that the authority has a responsibility to reduce carbon and therefore the supplier does also by extension. It will soon be an expectation for all businesses to have a carbon reduction plan and monitor their emissions across their business functions and customer projects.

Having a Carbon Reduction Plan will become a necessity for suppliers targeting Public Sector Contracts within the near future. Even if the values are blank, you need to at least have a benchmark/ base of your current emissions. You can carbon offset, but that is fixing a previous year. What Councils are asking for suppliers to do, is to review their carbon usage year on year. You can get your carbon benchmark/base with a little bit of consulting, and they’ll even highlight areas for improvement. Armed with this information, then you simply take steps each year to reduce your carbon use.

Some councils already include a Social Value section to their annual KPI report templates. It’s only a matter of time before the KPI reporting templates from Crown Commercial Services change.

It is paramount that all suppliers who are exploring public sector contracts are aware of the requirements and expectations for them and are partnered with a company that can support them today.

Will Social Value ever be a “box ticking” exercise? No. It’s a mandatory requirement. It shows how your company will work in alignment with the Councils goals and values.

Responsibility doesn’t just lie on the supplier though. Authorities need to host more market engagement events to share their standards with the interested suppliers so they can complete suitable readiness activities such as finding partnerships, software and such. When the tender has been released, it is already too late for these suppliers to make the necessary steps.

So, what do you as a supplier need to do? What should be your takeaways from this?

  1. Understand what social value you can bring, not what you do bring, what you CAN bring
  2. Understand your carbon footprint – check out this link for Scope 2 and 3 data – LINK
  3. Grab your copy of the Social Value and Carbon Reduction Plans and familiarize yourself with the templates – email admin@tenderresponse.co.uk
  4. Grab some time with Tender Response to create your action plan – LINK
  5. Implement

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