Social Value legislation changes - a step change from PPN0620 to PPN0521

Peter Masonbrook
PPN0620 was released in 2020, and then subsequently officially launched in January 2021. It brought an instant change to public sector procurement that consultants needed to instantly familiarise themselves with, in order to advise clients in a fully informed way.

Prior to PPN0620 was the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, where there was the request to consider social value, as well as economic and financial wellbeing within public sector procurement contracts; but this wasn’t obligatory and didn’t go far enough. The result was a mix-and-match approach of embedding social value in procurement for the supply chain, who would all consider this to a greater or lesser extent, meaning little consistency in approach. This resulted in a 2019 White Paper consultation to improve the process.

The end product was the PPN0620 Social Value Framework, with a minimum 10% weighting towards social value, bringing a range of hugely important benefits to society, especially at a local level. Furthermore the UK government’s recently released Construction Playbook mandates that a minimum weighting of 10% of the total score for social value should now be applied in the procurement process to ensure that societal benefit is a differentiating factor in bid evaluation.

The evolution to PPN0521

The main aim of PPN0521, released in June 2021, was to enhance the groundwork from PPN0620, and address national policy outcomes that are considered as part of the procurement process though all public sector departments, rather than solely central government.

The main differences between PPN0620 and PPN0521;

  • 0521 extends 0620, as now all public sector bodies, not just central government, need to make sure they have the right organisational skills, capacity, and deliver social value
  • The benchmarking of public sector bodies around skillsets, processes and policies for social value take us to a different realm in how we help and assist with social value

Ultimately there’s more devil in the detail – this is now an integral part of national policy. It’s a reinforcement of what key drivers are needed to deliver social value. Post pandemic, the economy needs reshuffling, which necessitates re-training and upskilling, especially in the most hard-hit areas, including retail and hospitality, where there has and will be mass unemployment. Resilience and innovation must be at the forefront.

Any public sector contracting authority must now consider these national policy outcomes, focussing on creating new businesses, jobs and skills, addressing climate change and waste, and supplier diversity and resilience, all of which play into COVID recovery and safeguarding the environment.

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