Social value policy


Social value presents an opportunity for all people and organisations in Surrey to achieve more towards our shared Community Vision for Surrey 2030.

When we make decisions about spending money, or when we design and deliver services, we can each do this in a way that maximises positive social, economic and environmental impact for our community.

The greatest impact is usually achieved through working together and sharing our resources.

This might mean, for example, sharing building space with community groups, purchasing equipment made using recycled materials, providing free business advice to local businesses and charities, or enabling young adults with additional needs to find long-term employment.

The policy below describes what we understand by Social Value, what value it can add to Surrey and how we go about maximising this opportunity.

What is social value?

Social value:

  • Is not just 'social' value; it means creating social, economic and environmental benefit – for people, for the local economy and for the physical environment'.
  • Involves a measurable change for the better.
  • Is achieved by sharing resources and working together.
  • Redefines "value for money" from cost-saving to value adding.
  • It usually means going beyond the core purpose of a service or an organisation's core mission.

The term 'social value' is increasingly used across all sectors to describe the total positive impact of an organisation or a project.

For those working in the public sector, the Social Value Act requires us to reflect on our core services and products, and to consider how we might design and deliver these in a way that generates even greater value for our communities.

This might mean, for example, sharing building space with community groups, purchasing equipment made using recycled materials, providing free business advice to local businesses and charities, or enabling young adults with additional needs to find long-term employment.

At Surrey County Council, we don't just deliver services. Increasingly we work with communities to design solutions together, supporting existing projects and ideas with our resources, networks and expertise. Social Value in this context means working together, using all our resources, to maximise our impact.

What does it mean for the people and place of Surrey?

Delivering Social Value in Surrey means maximising our positive impact:

  • Achieving more than we can with our own resources.
  • Achieving better, more long-lasting outcomes through working together.

The Social Value Priority Areas for 2021 ensure that we focus the additional value on what is most important in Surrey right now. These are based on our shared Community Vision for Surrey 2030, which was shaped by people and organisations from across the county, and they also support the current organisation and health and wellbeing strategies.

Reduce inequality

In Surrey we have a particular focus over the next five years on tackling health inequality, as detailed in the Organisation Strategy 2021 to 2026 (PDF). There are four groups of people who we particularly want to work together with to achieve this: those with special education needs and learning disabilities; people living with long-term illness or physical disabilities; those with caring responsibilities and people living in material deprivation or with other vulnerabilities.

Our recently reinforced commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion also includes additional areas of focus, as we work towards equality of education and skills, inclusion in democratic processes and decision-making and greater diversity in the workforce. This is not only a Council commitment, but one we work together with our partners and suppliers across the county to fulfil through all community engagement and service delivery.

Promote independence and wellbeing

Every organisation can play a role in improving the mental and physical health of others, especially with regards to their own workforce. At Surrey Council we are working towards a set of Healthy Workplace Commitments that we would like to invite others to join.

Greater independence can be built through more inclusive access, whether to physical locations or to online platforms, and also through technological advances, whether in physical equipment or in digital tools. Understanding the lives and experiences of those who lack independence will help to generate the best solutions, and we will work together to design services that truly empower others.

Unlock hidden talent

A number of people in Surrey feel under confident and/or are unable to enter the workplace for a variety of reasons. Many of these people have skills, attributes and behaviours that could add huge value to businesses and organisations that offer them employment opportunities. Those who might benefit most include people with disabilities or learning difficulties; young people leaving residential care or from disadvantaged backgrounds; or adults returning from military service, family care or long-term illness.

At Surrey County Council we have recently set up the Hidden Talent network to improve our own recruitment and management processes and we will work with an increasingly wider range of suppliers and partner organisations who share this commitment, to improve practice, expand referral pathways and develop shared resources.

Think local

Our refreshed organisation strategy has a strong focus on growing a sustainable local economy, which is especially meaningful in the growth and recovery period following the COVID-19 pandemic. New procurement guidance enabling increased investment in local businesses and social enterprise will play a part in this recovery, as will increased partnership working within and between sectors, sharing resources and expertise to support growth. The One Surrey Growth Board offers a shared approach to prioritising and maximising these opportunities whilst ensuring that this growth is both sustainable and equitable.

Tackle root causes of climate change

Reducing carbon emissions is the Council's number one priority in this area, and we are working together across the organisation, with our suppliers and with people and organisations across Surrey to reach our county's net zero carbon target by 2050. Changes to means of transport, energy usage and waste management are just a few areas as part of the wider Climate Change Strategy where we can make a significant difference both as individuals and as organisations.

Invest in Surrey's greener future

The majority of purchases made with public money can involve additional investment in improving the local environment and increasing biodiversity, and people and organisations across the county can play a very hands-on role through the way we manage our own land no matter how small, for example by rewilding or planting trees. Surrey's New Tree Strategy 2020 contains detailed guidance as well as links to other initiatives such as the Blue Campaign.

Our policy aims

The aim of this policy, and the accompanying guidance, is to set out how Surrey County Council will deliver maximum social, economic and environmental value, not only through its commissioning, procurement and contract management activities but also through enabling wider collaboration and resource sharing between people and organisations across the county.

We will know we are successful when:

  • There is measurable evidence of the social, economic and environmental value created through SCC third party contracts
  • "Sharing resources to achieve shared outcomes" becomes normal practice across the county within and between each sector – residents, voluntary, community and faith sector, the business community and the public sector

How we will achieve this

These six overarching commitments form the basis of our Social Value strategy

We start by understanding what is most important to communities in Surrey right now

We will work on an on-going basis with service teams, communities and partners to capture changing needs and desired outcomes and to review our Social Value Priority Areas.

We build these identified priorities into the design and delivery of all our services

When designing services, or spending any amount of public money, we plan right from the start how we might generate the greatest possible social, economic and environmental impact.

We work in partnership to maximise impact

When our partners commit to delivering against shared priorities we work together, sharing our own resources, networks and expertise to help achieve the greatest impact.

We promote and enable resource-sharing across the county

We develop online and offline spaces to facilitate, encourage and enable collaboration and resource sharing between all people and organisations in Surrey.

We capture and tell the story

We will track all Social Value delivered through our activities, measuring and reporting on the impact achieved and publicising successes where possible.

We lead by example

Delivering maximum impact means reviewing not only our service design and spending decisions as above, but also our operations, including for example our wellbeing policies, apprenticeship opportunities, use of our buildings, staff volunteering hours in the community, investment into renewable energy sources, and the way we travel to work.

Our policy commitments

In commissioning, procurement and contract management

  • We will work to deliver Social Value not just through public services as legislated in the Social Value Act but through all services, goods and works of any scale.
  • The Social Value Act requires us to consider Social Value in delivery of all services with a value above the OJEU threshold. We already go beyond this by considering Social Value in all contracts and purchases and we will go further by considering Social Value in all spend where appropriate.
  • In line with government guidance and wherever appropriate, we will reserve procurements below threshold for Surrey-based organisations and/or for SMEs and VCSEs.
  • We will take an integrated approach to commissioning and procurement, building Social Value into service design from the very start of any commissioning process.
  • Social Value commitments will be clearly connected to the outcomes they aim to achieve, and to the current Social Value Priority Areas.
  • In contract documents and performance management frameworks, Social Value outcomes and key performance indicators will be incorporated as core contract outcomes.
  • Contract Managers will take ownership of ensuring all Social Value committed to is delivered
  • In tender processes we will aspire to achieve a Social Value benefit equivalent to at least 10% of the contract value.
  • Wherever appropriate, we will prioritise qualitative evaluation over use of financial proxies, especially pre-award of contract when evaluating quotes or scoring bids.

Across Surrey County Council

  • We will build Social Value into our strategy formation, business planning and budgeting activities.
  • All service teams will be trained in how to design and spend for Social Value, not only commissioners, procurement officers and contract managers.
  • Social Value priority areas will be reviewed annually, drawing on insight from a range of stakeholders including residents, partners and service teams.
  • We will facilitate online platforms and offline spaces such as Social Value Marketplace and We Are Surrey for people and organisations to share ideas, areas of priority, resource needs and resource offers, and to collaborate in fulfilling these.

When reporting on Social Value

  • Any activity that generates a measurable social, economic or environmental impact should be captured in Social Value reporting.
  • We will prioritise quality over quantity, placing greater emphasis on non-monetary measurement of value, and when using monetary values we will ensure no double counting
  • We will provide an annual report to Cabinet detailing the Social Value delivered through our activities, both in qualitative and quantitative terms.

Guiding principles

In delivering on this policy and the commitments above, our aim is for Social Value to be:

  • Easy to understand and Relevant and meaningful: Social Value should clearly contribute to the current Social Value Priority Areas and will therefore be of direct benefit to Surrey residents. For suppliers this also means proportionate to the size and type of the contract.
  • Measurable: Positive changes in communities should always be measurable, in both quantitative and qualitative terms, and where relevant social value can also be presented in financial terms.
  • Flexible and collaborative: We should demonstrate and promote a strength-based approach to community engagement and responsiveness to communities' changing priorities
  • Sustainable: Social Value should be focused on long term outcomes and on building enduring, productive relationships

How we will measure success

We will evaluate the impact of Social Value delivery through:

  • Measuring inputs and outputs: This might be, for example, through number of volunteer hours invested, number of trees planted, or number of webinars delivered.
  • Measuring progress against outcomes: We start by defining outcomes and then agree relevant performance indicators, for example, developing self-confidence in young adults with disabilities might be measured through perceived self confidence rating moving from 3 out of 10 to 6 out of 10, or contribution to improvement in local air quality might be estimated through kg CO2e saved by electric vehicles in a school meal deliveries service.
  • Attributing financial values to the above where relevant: This might be, for example, valuing pro bono consultancy for businesses or charities at £20 to £30 per hour.
  • Capturing case studies and drawing on other qualitative methods to add depth and context to the social value created.

Contact us

For more detail on how to get involved, examples of what it looks like in practice, and practical steps we can take join the Surrey Social Value Marketplace

The Surrey Social Value Marketplace is an online platform that allows the Third Sector to post requests for support or assistance based on local need. It is an excellent and innovative way of ensuring that the actual needs of the community are fulfilled by our leverage with suppliers to deliver Social Value.

Or get in touch at

Subscribe to our newsletters for latest news and events.