There have been some recent changes in the way that public bodies can take social considerations into account when procuring public contracts. The new Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 aims to clarify the issue a bit.
The Act (applied to public service contracts) creates a statutory requirement for public authorities to have regard to economic, social and environmental well-being in connection with public services contracts and for connected purposes. However, the Act also states that these decisions must also be directly relevant to what is being produced in the first place. This is roughly equivalent to what the EU procurement regime already allowed for.
From the bid writer’s point of view, the main thing is to look at where the question of Social Value will come up in the tender writing process:
Before the public sector tender is issued: the contracting authority will try to identify non-commercial, social value considerations before they commence the procurement process. This will have a big impact on the technical specifications of the project that a bid writer should take into account.
In the terms of the Contract: if the contracting authority does decide it wants to place emphasis on a particular social need, it might include “special” conditions.
The selection stage: the contracting authority could well reject applicants who don’t meet the non-commercial needs of the contract. Bid writers should make sure that their bid meets those requirement. For instance, the contracting authority might want to fulfil an environmental consideration and choose a company with a proven record in that area.
The Act states that the selection criteria must be non-discriminatory, proportionate and linked to the subject matter.
Need help writing a public sector tender? Contact one of our team today on 0203405 1850 and we can help.