Social Enterprise UK and National Voices analyse the use of the Social Value Act by CCGs

policy digest

27 / 06 / 2017

Healthy Commissioning, How the social value act is being used by clinical commissioning groups
Social Enterprise UK & National Voices, May 2017

In this investigation, Social Enterprise UK and National Voices used Freedom of Information requests to gather data from 209 CCGs along with their commissioning support units. This information was then used to determine what CCGs were doing to incorporate the Social Value act into their work.

The paper describes the Social Value Act as a mechanism that requires any public service commissioner to think about how they can reap wider benefits beyond their stated area of work, in social, environmental and economic spheres. Within healthcare, this applies to the pre-procurement phase and outlines how CCGs can bring valuable benefits to their area though the purchase of services, collaboration with community groups and engagement with their local area.

Using a methodology that assesses; evidence of a social value policy and/or document, evidence of the Social Value Act being applied to commissioning decisions and evidence of social value weighting in assessing tenders, the paper makes seven key findings;

  • 57 percent of CCGs claim that they have a social value policy or reference social value in one of more of their procurement policies.
  • 43 percent of respondents either have no policy, were in the process of developing one or were not aware of one.
  • 25 CCGs (13 percent) demonstrated a ‘highly committed evidence and active’ use of the act.
  • Weighting procurement for social value is low, with weighting typically accounting for just 2 percent of the overall evaluation.
  • Most CCGs reported around one or two procurement exercises per year, with some reporting none.
  • Use and application of the social value act is geographically varied indicating a greater understanding of the act is certain areas.
  • 13 percent of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships mention social value

In line with these findings, the paper outlines the future context for social value and clinical commissioning, describing an uncertain landscape in which the line between purchaser and provider might become increasingly blurred. The paper ends by observing that this split creates a paradox in which the NHS has never had a clearer vision for bringing the contributions of community organisations into the mainstream of care, but finds itself increasingly unable to do this. To meet this challenge, Social Enterprise UK & National Voices make five recommendations;

  • Every CCG should be mandated to have a Social Value policy and Social Value should be built into the Right Care programme.
  • Every STP should have a social value strategy.
  • The Department of Health, NHS England, NHS improvement and Public Health England should support and promote best practice. This could begin by demonstrating how they are meeting their own commitments as public bodies.
  • The Department of Health, NHS England, NHS improvement and Public Health England should work alongside the Inclusive Economy Unit to draft more robust guidance on social value for the NHS.
  • CCGs should apply Social Value to their procurement and commissioning processes.

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