Social value guidance for commissioners and programme managers

The guidance notes below provide a summary of the steps involved in designing services, projects or programmes that will deliver social value.

For the full guidance document, which also includes a one-minute guide and other supporting documents, please contact

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Getting started

If you are just getting started with a new project, a service design process, or a re-procurement, now is the time to do some initial research and thinking.

  • Look back. What (if any) additional value was delivered in the previous project or service if there was one?
  • Reflect. What worked and what didn't work well, and why? What would we need to do differently this time for it to work? For example, did the proposed activity need to be more achievable, were more qualitative outcomes needed, or more specific quantitative targets, or would better engagement with suppliers have been the key to success?
  • Research similar projects or services online to generate ideas of what might be possible in your particular sector or type of service.
  • Read through Surrey's four corporate priority objectives and look through the needs and priorities list to think of some broad themes and practical examples under each of these objectives.
  • Engage early on with your procurement counterpart (if this is going to involve a procurement process), to get some sector-specific ideas, and to think together about what might be achievable.

Research and engagement

As you undertake initial research and engagement with service users, potential suppliers and other stakeholders, use the opportunity to also ask them:

  • What social, economic and environmental issues do they think might be connected to this project or service?
  • What additional activities (that may not fall within the core remit or budget) would enhance the outcomes of this service?
  • More generally, what is important to them in their community with regards to the local economy, the local environment, and local social issues?
  • You can share the four corporate priority objectives, the needs and priorities list, and a link to the Social Value Marketplace to help get people thinking.
  • What assets are they aware of in the community that could support delivery of social value, such as building space, volunteering groups, technical expertise, equipment, lived experience, or networks.

Deciding on the outcomes and areas of focus

Using the research and thinking you have done so far, consider which social, economic and environmental issues, outcomes or specific activities/resource contributions:

  • Are most important to the people you engaged with.
  • Align most closely with the four corporate priority objectives.
  • Most closely support the core outcomes of the contract.
  • Can most easily be measured (quantitatively and qualitatively)
  • Would be most realistic for the type of suppliers you envisage bidding for this contract.
  • Feel proportionate to the potential value and duration of the contract or project.

If you are able to, check your final list with the stakeholders you originally engaged with.

Preparing for procurement and contract management

Talk to your procurement counterpart and service colleagues about which of these you can build into the design of the service and the specification, and which of these will be additional contributions that you can request from bidders in a separate social value question during the tender process.

When finalising the outcomes/activities you want to focus on, you might want to complete an outcomes framework including suggested activities, expected outcomes and how you intend to measure progress against them.

  • If we are delivering the service in house, or if you want to be more prescriptive with the suppliers, you can complete this framework yourself.
  • If you want to give suppliers more flexibility to come up with their own activities or measures, you can give them this framework either empty or partially completed.
  • If you are mixing the social value outcomes and activities together with the core service outcomes, and including in the service specification, perhaps colour-code them so that you can track the 'additional value' over and above the core service outcomes.

Once you have agreed the priority areas of focus for social value, share these with your procurement counterpart, if you haven't already.

Please read through the procurement guidance for more information on what happens next, and if you or your colleagues will be managing this contract, please also read the guidance for contract managers.

For any other questions, or to view the full guidance documents, please contact

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