Social value guidance for procurement

The guidance notes below provide a summary of the steps involved in securing meaningful social value commitments when procuring goods and services.

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

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Getting started

As you engage with your service or commissioning colleagues at the start of any procurement or re-procurement, social value should be a topic of conversation right from the start.

  • Engage early on with your commissioning or service counterpart. You can send them the Guidance for Commissioners to help start the conversation.
  • Look back and reflect. What (if any) additional value was delivered in the previous project/service if there was one?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?
  • Read through Surrey County Council's priority areas and the needs and priorities list to help decide which broad themes or specific activities to focus on.

Engaging with potential suppliers

It is important to introduce social value, at least in broad terms, at the first market engagement event.

For a five-minute slide deck you can use to describe our approach to social value, please contact

Here are some actions to consider when engaging with potential suppliers:

  • Share our approach to social value, describing the guiding principles in our social value policy.
  • Describe the organisation's four priority objectives, and how they contribute to the Community Vision for Surrey 2030.
  • Share with the providers any specific areas of focus you've already identified for Social Value in this contract and ask for feedback.
  • Explain the likely procurement approach to social value in tender documentation, including any information you already have regarding question type, content, format and scoring.
  • Create space for queries or concerns to be raised.
  • Where time allows, if not already done, create space for more ideas, perhaps even setting up a separate workshop with potential suppliers and service representatives. Bring in ideas from similar projects or services, speaking to colleagues, and searching online to generate ideas of what might be possible in your particular sector or type of service.
  • If this is a high value or long-term contract, consider the possibility of developing a more strategic approach to a complex issue such as skills and employment, or reducing health inequalities.

Deciding what to focus on

You may already have a clear idea of what social value commitments will be focused on in this contract, in which case, please skip this section.

If you still need to finalise the areas of focus though, please read on.

Using the research, thinking and engagement 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 priority objectives.
  • Most closely support the core outcomes of the contract (not essential).
  • 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.

Building social value into tender documents

By now, you should have some clear areas of focus for social value, either broad outcomes you want suppliers to work towards, or specific activities you want them to undertake.

There are two main options for building these into the commissioning and procurement process and into the contract.

Service specification

Some elements of social value can be built into the service specification.

  • This might be a case of adding desired outcomes alongside the core outcomes. For example, for children's residential services an additional outcome might be to increase climate change awareness and action among young people.
  • Or it might involve specifying ways of working. For example, the supplier must recruit specific service delivery roles through volunteering or through a council-approved programme that supports Armed Forces veterans or NEET young people into work. Carbon emission requirements or local spend requirements could also be built in here.

Method statement

It is much more usual however (although you can do both), to design a question(s) in the invitation to tender document that asks bidders to describe what social value they will deliver during this contract.

Where appropriate, social value should account for 10% of the total score available, unless environmental sustainability has been included as a separate question.

Please contact for a template question, or follow the guidance notes below to design a question yourself.

  • Describe the areas of focus that you've identified for this contract under social value
  • Ask the bidders to provide a method statement describing how they will deliver on these.

In the question(s) you can ask for two key things:

  • A delivery plan, either for year 1 or for the whole contract.
  • Where appropriate (especially in a high value or long-term contract), ask how they will go about community engagement, partnership-building and governance set up.

Ask bidders to specify in their delivery plan:

  • What activities/actions they will undertake, with estimated/target numbers for example, 10 workshops or 100 hours or a six-month paid work placement.
  • Which priority objective(s) each of the activities or actions contribute to.
  • What outcomes (positive change) they hope to see.
  • How they will measure progress against these outcomes, such as suggested key performance indicators (KPIs). These should not only include quantitative outputs such as 10 workshops completed, but also qualitative feedback such as using surveys, observations, questionnaires, outcome stars, case studies, etc.

Social Value Measurement Charter

Please do ask suppliers to complete the charter, to help with tracking and reporting on social value, but with two important caveats:

  • We will not refer to the monetary values in the charter when scoring their responses; we will primarily be evaluating the method statement. However, we may refer to the charter to check that their targets (for example, three workshops or 100 volunteering hours) are proportionate to the value of the contract.
  • Wherever possible, please ask to produce a bespoke (smaller) version of the charter that only contains the areas of focus that you've identified for this contract. This will make it easier for bidders to engage with.

If you choose not to use the charter, please ensure that the bidders propose relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) in their responses, so that we can build those into the performance management framework during contract mobilisation.

Evaluating social value in bidders' responses

When setting the scoring criteria for the method statement we want to see evidence of some or all of the following, depending on the size and value of the contract:

  • A robust and convincing delivery plan.
  • Strong governance arrangements.
  • Commitments that are proportionate to the size/value/type of the contract.
  • Commitments that are meaningful to Surrey's communities – responding to specific needs or to the priority areas.
  • A plan for community engagement, and flexibility to respond to changing needs.
  • Proactive partnership working with both council and other businesses and voluntary sector organisations.
  • A focus on outcomes – being clear about the positive impact (or benefits) we want to see.
  • Commitments that are measurable, with suggested indicators for measuring change.
  • An understanding of qualitative measurement.

Setting up for contract management

Social value commitments should be added either into the contract or relevant schedule alongside other KPIs, or as a separate social value schedule.

Please read the guidance for contract managers to consider any other actions you can take to set this contract up for success before and during handover.

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