Six Mistakes to Avoid in Your Social Value Offer

May 26, 2020Social Value, Bid Management, Bid Writing, Tender Process

Social Value is becoming an increasingly important part of public sector requirements. Legally, it is only required for contracts over the Public Contract Regulations (PCR) threshold, public sector organisations are under financial pressures, and are using social value requirements as a way to improve value for money and deliver more to local residents.

Putting together your package, and calculating the value that it provides can be complicated. While there are frameworks available such as the National TOMs from the Social Value Portal or the HACT Value Calculator, procurers may have their own preferred method for calculating Social Return on Investment (SROI).

But even using a methodology or framework that you’re familiar with, it’s still possible to make mistakes when working out the SROI. Here is a list of six common mistakes that bidders make and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Including Value from Outside this Contract

Many companies are doing positive things for the communities they work for, either because of the requirements of other contracts, or their own Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. However the value that you report when submitting a bid or proposal should only be made up of value that is delivered as a result of this contract. For example, you may have reduced waste to landfill by 10% across the board, but you can only report the value for waste produced on that contract as part of your SROI.

2. Not understanding the Units of Measurement

Each social value initiative has a different way of measuring value, and they are often more complex than you might initially think. For example, the value of employing someone who was previously long-term unemployed is not simply calculated from salary. The value of removing waste from the landfill stream is not just what can be gained by recycling those materials.

If the procurer is not using a standard framework then they should include information in the tender documents to help you understand how to properly calculate the SROI on each of your proposals.

3. What is Local?

Procurers often want the value to remain in the local area, but what exactly does that mean? It could be within the boundaries of a local authority, for example, but it may extend outside that by a certain margin. Again, the tender documents should contain guidance on this, but if they don’t, ask a clarification question or your SROI calculations won’t be accurate.

4. Don’t Double-Dip

You can’t claim SROI for anything that is required as part of the core contract, even if it could be included under social value. Also, be aware of social value spend which could be included under several categories and ensure that you’re only claiming the value under one.

5. Include Your Measures

Include baseline figures, if you are going to be promising improvements over the course of the contract, so the procurer knows where you are starting from. And if you are not using a framework to report your SROI, include an explanation of how you came up with your figures to help the procurer to understand them.

6. Provide Good Evidence

If you’ve already delivered social value for other contracts, then now is the time to talk about them. Your results will give you concrete examples and numbers that can be used to make your social value proposal more compelling. If you don’t have that, then you might be able to get facts and figures from others, for example if you are switching to electric vehicles for this contract, do the manufacturer have any performance statistics?

Need Help?

We know that the social value requirements have put new strains on SMEs who are bidding for public sector work. If you’re struggling to find your way with social value then our FREE white paper might help. It’s called Win More Bids: Do More Good and you can download it here. If you need more help after that? Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help.


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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