What is Social Value?

Jul 29, 2021Social Value

Although the Social Value Act (more correctly known as the Public Services (Social Value) Act came into force in 2013, and the profile of social value has been rising ever since. Through the actions of organisations in the field such as Social Value UK and The Social Value Portal, and more recently the Transforming Public Procurement document and new Social Value Model from the government, what had been a niche subject is starting to become mainstream. But what is social value?

Synonyms for Social Value

In the corporate world, social value is more commonly known as Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR. Other phrases that have cropped up with mean the same thing include ‘Community Initiatives’ and ‘Supporting a Circular Economy’. The fundamental idea is that public sector organisations can use their buying power to deliver ‘added value’ initiatives to their residents of service users.

You may have come across the idea of Section 106 funding, where developers were asked to contribute money, as part of winning a contract, which was used to create or improve the community and social infrastructure. This was often seen through the creation of play spaces on housing estates, or the building of a community centre.

Social Value is a similar idea. As part of winning a public sector contract, a company may be asked to also submit a social value proposition to explain how they will deliver value to residents, customers, or service users.

The New Social Value Model

Originally, social value was split into three different categories: employment, community, and environmental. However, in September 2020 the Government published its new social value model as PPN 06/20. This model added two new categories to the original three, COVID Recovery and Wellbeing.

In response to this model, Social Value UK identified three different types of social value; Inherant, Embedded, and additional. Inherent social value are the benefits that will be achieved from the completion of the project, and can’t be considered part of a social value proposition. The remaining two are inherent, which is ‘business as usual’ social value for your organisation such as using electric vehicles or paying the Real Living Wage, while additional social value would be the measure of activities that only take place because you won this contract.

Additional Social Value Examples

While some organisations have a clear idea of what they want to achieve through social value, others leave it up to the bidder to make the most attractive offer. This is the point when many of our clients come to us, unsure of what they can do that will offer real benefits and win them the tender.

Here are some examples of successful social value activities we’ve suggested for clients, under the five categories in the social value model.


  • Hiring new staff for the contract – hiring from groups further from the jobs market has additional value, so if you can recruit young people who are NEET, the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, ex-offenders, or ex-armed forces these roles are worth more in Social Return on Investment (SROI).
  • Offering quality apprenticeships
  • Attending careers fairs to promote your industry.

what is social valueCommunity

  • Sponsoring a local fun day.
  • Setting up a coffee morning.
  • Sponsoring a project such as a ‘Men’s shed’ or bike reclamation project that can become a focus for the community.
  • Volunteering to decorate a community centre or pick litter in a park.


  • Using electric vehicles, journey planning software, and giving drivers training in sustainable driving.
  • Signing up to a ‘bike to work’ scheme.
  • Greening a brownfield site to create a new outdoor space.
  • Running a community recycling education workshop.

COVID Recovery

  • Spending money with local MSMEs and VCSEs
  • Creating new jobs in the area
  • Supporting industries hardest hit, such as hospitality.


  • Giving your staff mental health awareness training.
  • Training a Mental Health First Aider.
  • Sponsoring meditation or mindfulness classes in the community.
  • Creating an accessible sensory garden.

What is Social Value Worth?

At the moment, the majority of the bid we see include social value as a question within the quality section, and it is evaluated along with the other quality responses. However, with the publication of PPN 06/21, central government contracts can now include a 10% weighting for social value and we have seen bids that are 40% price, 50% quality, and 10% social value, for example. We expect to see this trend increasing in the future.

So, if you’re struggling with what to put into your social value proposition, we can help. We’ve worked with companies of all sizes on tenders worth tens of thousands through to hundreds of millions, supporting them to develop social value offers that make real change and score well. If you’d like us to do the same for you, get in touch today.

Adrian Corcoran

Adrian Corcoran is Managing Director and Founder of Bid for Success. Passionate about working with great businesses to win them new work, she and the Bid for Success team are here to help you with your bidding and work winning needs.


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