CIC Association

Serving Community Enterprise

January 2013 is a watershed for social enterprise and community focused service providers because the Public Services Act 2012 created a level playing field for public sector competitive tendering.

Price has been a core driver in procurement for many years, lowest price has appeared to be the key differentiator with SME's and social enterprises struggling to compete with larger employers who draw on economies of scale and multiple contracts to share overheads.

The Public Services Act responds to the EU directives encouraging greater competitive inclusion for SME's and community benefit companies.

The core principles are: 

  • Supporting the Local Economy
  • Creating efficiencies across departments
  • creating local economic growth and wellbeing
  • Aligning social value with local needs

The challenge for many social enterprises is how do we demonstrate this? It has always been a question of presentation and dynamic delivery in the response documents, many feeling this is more 'pot luck' than skilful writing because it relies on the subjective views of the buyer.

The interesting adjustment in the procurement process is primarily buyers have been clearly told price is not the key focus of procurement and that implementing the Social Value criteria presents a real chance to localise the benefits and impact of the money spent.

This is part of the evaluation guidance provided:

Social Value is measured  

Promoting SMEs and civil society organisations through an observance of existing duties of equal treatment, proportionality and transparency and by making subcontracting opportunities more visible by:

  • Stimulating socially conscious markets
  • Demonstrating socially responsive governance
  • Promoting fair and ethical trading
  • Ensuring more effective and efficient public expenditure
  • Contributing to health improvement priorities
  • Stimulating social integration

These are a few of the additional criteria and when added to technical answers and your business description this adds real local value.

The Practical workshops in October and November work through a tender document adding the social value, benefits and economic impact to core responses to ensure that the buyer can see the real value of working with your company.

You will not win every contract you compete for, improving your chances by focusing on the real value of your business and the tool that has been created for social enterprise is an obvious winner.

Have you considered how you can include localism in your armoury when competing for public contracts?

That is another blog post but worth the research for all SME's and Social Enterprises  

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