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ResPublica Welcomes the Enforcement of the Social Value Act

31st January 2013

  • ResPublica

The new Act which will give greater priority to the social impact of public services

Today, the Public Services (Social Value) Act comes into force. The new legislation requires local authorities and other commissioners, including housing associations, to consider the social impact of their public service contracts before they start the procurement process.

Chris White MP, ResPublica Advisor and sponsor of the Bill, said:

“The Public Services (Social Value) Act has fantastic potential to make commissioning by public bodies smarter and deliver change that can benefit our communities. The Social Value Act provides public bodies with an opportunity be more innovative in the way that they construct public service contracts, taking into account the social, environmental and economic well-being of the areas they serve.

I believe that this could lead to more charities, social enterprises and socially responsible businesses delivering public services – increasing diversity in public service provision and supporting organisations which are rooted in our communities to deliver the important we all use.”

ResPublica has continually advocated the central importance of social value within both public services and private business. In Spring of last year, Respublica hosted a private half-day conference, which explored the challenges and opportunities to promoting social outcomes in commissioning and delivery.

Since then, our reports and party conference activity has drawn on this agenda, chartering further innovations for radical implementation. Our recent report, Acting on Localism: The role of housing associations in driving a community agenda, urged housing associations in particular to go ‘beyond the Social Value Act’, to extensively engage local communities in judging whether a service is adequately meeting their social needs. If a service failed to do so, we recommended that it should be subject to a new ‘right to challenge’, which would enable both tenants and communities to challenge existing provision to ensure that social impact is achieved.

Caroline Julian, Senior Researcher and Project Manager of ResPublica, said:

“The recent legislative emphasis on ‘social value’ is a welcome shift in public policy thinking. The Public Services (Social Value) Act offers a mechanism to ‘nudge’ public bodies to highlight the importance of social impact in both the services the they procure and the services that they deliver.

We now need to press for a far more radical social settlement. The emphasis on social outcomes and the role of the community in public services has huge potential to deliver a transformative agenda – one that calls for a new social foundation upon which our public and private markets could be based. Far beyond ‘tick box’ exercises, intermediary institutions can act as facilitators, enablers and capacity builders for not only social value, but a whole new social economy.”

Chris White MP will be publishing a ResPublica ‘Green Paper’ in the coming month, which will set out how the the Public Services (Social Value) Act can most effectively be harnessed.

ResPublica will also be exploring such themes further through our forthcoming research projects on the future of localism and local government. For further information, please contact Caroline Julian at

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