Social value guidance for suppliers

Your experience may change depending on the value and type of contract you are bidding for, but the summary below should serve as a useful guide in terms of what to expect.

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Early engagement

  • Staff from the council will first discuss social value at one of the market engagement events – this is an online or in-person session where you will learn more about the contract opportunity.
  • They will describe our approach to social value, the four priority objectives for the council, any particular areas of focus for this contract opportunity, and a rough description of how social value will be evaluated during the bidding process.
  • Please take the time to read through the information about social value on our website, looking in particular at the needs and priorities list and the Social Value Marketplace to understand the types of things that people and communities in Surrey would benefit most from right now.

Suppliers' questionnaire

  • At the first stage of bidding for a contract, you will fill out a suppliers' questionnaire, in which we might ask for an example of when you have delivered social value successfully in the past.
  • Here we are looking for the way in which you tried to understand the needs and priorities of the community, built local partnerships, and came up with solutions that really made an impact.
  • We would love to hear about activities or resource commitments that were particularly creative, or that had long-lasting impact, and where you clearly went above and beyond.

Invitation to tender

  • When we invite you to bid for a contract, we will ask a set of questions in a document called the invitation to tender.
  • There will be at least one question here about social value, and this will usually make up 10% of the total score available, although sometimes environmental sustainability is covered in a separate question, in which case this may be lower.
  • In this question we will likely ask you to focus on a few particular issues or themes within one or more of our organisation's priority objectives, coming up with a plan to deliver a set of activities, initiatives or resource commitments that will contribute towards these outcomes.
  • In your plan we are looking for commitments that are proportionate to the value of the contract. If it is a small, short-term contract, we will be looking for just a couple of realistic, practical actions that respond to local needs. If it is a large, multi-year contract, we would like to see a much more strategic response, for example looking at a more complex issue like skills and employment. This could mean not simply offering apprenticeships but thinking about how to reduce barriers to employment, reach those who are furthest from the workplace, and support apprentices in and beyond their time in your organisation.
  • If you are given much more flexibility in the social value question to come up with your own commitments, you can start by looking at the needs and priorities list to pick out one or more of the themes and considering what you could contribute towards these.
  • You may also be asked to describe how you will track progress and measure success, how you will build partnerships to help delivery, and how you will work together with residents and communities to make sure your actions are as impactful as possible.
  • Further down this page you can read more detail about scoring social value responses in the contract bidding process.
  • When considering which communities to work in, and which people might benefit the most, you can read through the data and insight team's analysis of the 21 key neighbourhoods in Surrey that we want to prioritise right now, and our priority population groups.

The social value measurement charter

  • Most bidders will be asked to complete a charter (in the form of an Excel spreadsheet) alongside their response to the social value question.
  • This is where you can record your proposed commitments in a more tangible way with specific targets.
  • This will not usually be scored, but it will be added to the contract if your bid is successful and can be used to help measure and report on social value, alongside any other key performance indicators that you proposed in your question response.

Successful award of contract

  • If your bid is successful, congratulations! We look forward to working with you. It is now time to start preparing and delivering your social value commitments.
  • For some of the larger contracts, the first period of time might be spent researching community needs, setting up governance, and building partnerships.
  • Your contract manager from the council will be your point of contact for social value and they will agree with you the frequency of meeting and reporting about social value.
  • We ask suppliers to take initiative with building any partnerships that they need in the community, for example to find referral partners for apprenticeships, or building relationships with schools to deliver career workshops, etc. However, you can raise any challenges with your contract manager, and they will get in touch with the social value programme team and social value champions to ask for support. Where possible, and where we are able to find capacity in our own service teams, we will work with suppliers to help connect their resources with the places and the people who need it most.
  • We understand that not all plans work out, and if you are unable to deliver on your social value commitments, you can work with your contract manager to agree an alternative delivery plan. The Social Value Marketplace is a helpful place to identify and respond to other needs within the community.


The way you report on social value to your contract manager will likely be a combination of one or more of the following:

  • A social value tracker where you record what actions you have taken, for example contacted a school to set up a workshop, and any commentary on what has or has not worked well.
  • A set of specific measurements or key performance indicators that you put forward in your question response, or that were agreed at the start of the contract.
  • The social value charter, which is likely to be submitted once per year, showing which of the targets have been achieved.
  • Case studies, quotes, images, survey responses, videos and other qualitative evidence of impact.

Scoring social value responses in the contract bidding process

When evaluating and scoring social value responses in a tendering process, the council usually bases scores on some or all of the following criteria:

  • A convincing plan with clear targets and realistic timescales.
  • Ambitious and meaningful targets in line with the size of the contract and clearly responding to identified needs in the community.
  • Creativity and innovation for example, not just delivering an apprenticeship but thinking about the underlying issues such as barriers to inclusion, and employability and finding new ways to address these.
  • Robust and inclusive governance, demonstrating a blended group of internal and external stakeholders, ideally including 'beneficiaries', to oversee the set-up, delivery and ongoing review of social value commitments.
  • An understanding of outcomes, such as the change we want to see; the "why" or "so what" of the activity.
  • Proactive approach to partnership working and community empowerment, drawing on other organisations' resources and assets to maximise impact, and building long term relationships, skills and capacity within the community.

If you have any outstanding questions, please get in touch at

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