By Daniel Hunter

The Social Value Act should drive change in local communities by encouraging business to more closely consider the social impact of their procurement decisions, according to Deloitte, the business advisory firm.

The Act, which requires public sector authorities to assess the social, economic and environmental impact of companies being awarded contracts, can make it easier for small businesses and charities to enter public sector supply chains. It should also encourage larger companies to work innovatively with small business and support local communities.

Speaking at a briefing, organised by Salford and Eccles MP Hazel Blears, to encourage UK businesses and public sector bodies jointly to embrace the Act, Heather Hancock, managing partner of Talent and Brand at Deloitte, said: “We fully support the principles of the Social Value Act and have already seen the benefits this can bring within our own business. We have a long history of working with charities and social enterprises in the delivery of services, and have seen excellent results from encouraging new organisations delivering exceptional social value in our own supply chain.

“For example, six of the social businesses from the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers* and Business in the Community’s Arc programme entered the firm’s supply chain over the past six months, with four more to be announced soon.

"These enterprises meet the service requirement we expect from any supplier, but also deliver demonstrable social value, excite our people and present innovative opportunities to engage with our clients. Looking only at the bottom line when considering your supply chain is a false economy and does not consider the wider impact - something we all share responsibility to protect and improve.”

Also speaking at the event were the Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP and Chris White MP, who worked closely together in bringing the Social Value Act to fruition. Blears, an advocate for the move for several years, argues that the Act will create a level playing field for small businesses that will stimulate local economies and communities.

She said: “We passionately believe that both the public and private sectors can improve business practice by consulting their local community and involving them in running services. This can be done, for instance, by employing local people or by using small firms and social enterprises in supply chains. We want to see councils, hospitals and other public authorities seize the opportunity provided by the Social Value Act to ensure the contracts they award help to improve people’s lives. The Act also gives social enterprises and companies of all sizes the chance to grow, expand and secure new contracts that may have been out of reach previously.

“It is vital that firms embed social value into their mainstream business models - helping local communities will no longer be an optional extra but integral to their success.”

The Deloitte and Veolia event was organised to brief the firm’s clients, corporate responsibility professionals, small businesses and charities. An expert panel, which consisted of Hazel Blears, Chris White, Deloitte, Veolia Environmental Services, Social Enterprise UK and Business in the Community, debated how the Act would be implemented and whether it could have an impact across the UK. Social enterprises, small businesses and charities spoke of their ambitions for the Act, their reservations about whether procurement functions had the understanding necessary to assess social value, and discussed the practical realities of entering a large company’s supply chain.

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