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Insights // 28 January 2021

A Shift in Procurement: An Opportunity for Charities?

Solicitor Jennifer Scott, in our Charities & Education team, discusses the ‘Social Value Model’ and how charities and social enterprises could stand to benefit when tendering.

The Government has recently published the ‘Social Value Model’ (the ‘Model’) setting out how Government departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies must utilise the Model to account for social value throughout the procurement lifecycle.

What is social value?

The accompanying guide for implementing the Social Value Model states: “the huge power of public money spent through public procurement every year in the UK must support Government priorities, to boost growth and productivity, help our communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and tackle climate change.”

The three key aspects of social value are:

  1. economic (opportunities for employment, apprenticeships and re-training)
  2. social (supporting the community, mental health and wellbeing)
  3. environmental (reducing carbon foot print and furtherance of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)

How can charities benefit?

Although the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 already obliged public authorities to consider social values during the procurement and award process, the ongoing pandemic has brought these challenges to the fore more than ever before, with a strong focus on helping businesses and individuals to recover from the pandemic.

Charities and social enterprises are arguably best placed to have the resources to address these needs, whilst also delivering on social value, being at an advantage by having charitable objectives and community roots at the centre of what they do.

A recent Civil Society article highlighted the advice from Claire Dove, who acts as an intermediary between Government and the charity and social enterprise sectors to champion the Public Services (Social Value) Act and improvements in commissioning and procurement practices.

In essence Dove’s advice on bidding for public sector contracts centres around becoming familiar with the Government’s Contract Finder platform, which can be used to research information about Government and agencies contracts worth over £10,000. She states that:

  1. You should engage early: research and talk to commissioners before they write the contract specification and attend a ‘meet the buyer’ event.
  2. Join a government framework agreement: “A Framework Agreement is an ‘umbrella’ agreement. A lead buyer agrees terms with one or more suppliers via a procurement (in line with the rules of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015) and then they, and any other pre-advertised organisations can purchase goods or services from the suppliers on the framework agreement, subject to these terms. Each subsequent purchase forms a contract.”
  3. Register on Dynamic Purchasing Systems: “DPS use a two stage process where firstly, all suppliers who meet the selection criteria and are not pre-excluded must be admitted to the DPS. There is no limit to how many suppliers can join a DPS. Unlike frameworks, suppliers can join a DPS at any point in its lifetime. Individual contracts are awarded during the second stage whereby the buyer invites all suppliers on the DPS to bid for the specific contract.”
  4. Join a Government supply chain: You can research the company “then look on their website for contract opportunities or approach them with an offer to work with them. Working with large suppliers can be a good way to build up experience of working directly with government.”

Dove also provides useful and digestible tips on what those in the public sector look for when awarding contracts and how to best prepare for a tender.

The guide to using the Social Value Model has a useful section setting out the legal considerations and refers to the flexibility that contracting authorities have “to build social and environmental requirements into their contracts”.

If you are a charity or social enterprise considering tendering for a public sector contract, or getting involved in the supply chain, please get in touch to see how you could benefit from our specialist advice in Charity and Commercial Law.

For further information or legal advice, please contact law@blandy.co.uk or call 0118 951 6800.

This article is intended for the use of clients and other interested parties. The information contained in it is believed to be correct at the date of publication, but it is necessarily of a brief and general nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott

Solicitor

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