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How to answer the social value question in public tenders

Winning public tenders often hinges on demonstrating not just your ability to deliver, but also the positive impact you can create for the wider community.  Understanding how to answer the social value question has become increasingly important and crafting a compelling response can be the difference between securing the contract or conceding to the competition.

Here are the top 5 areas to consider when tackling this crucial aspect of your public tender submission:

1. Understand what “social value” means to the buyer

Public sector bodies have varying priorities when it comes to social value.  Some might prioritise creating jobs, while others might focus on environmental sustainability or promoting diversity and inclusion.  Thoroughly research the specific buyer and their social value objectives.  This information is often outlined in the tender documents themselves.

Familiarise yourself with our social value glossary and make sure you are talking the same language

2. Align your response with the contracting authority’s priorities

Don’t be tempted to present a generic social value plan. Go further than the tender documents and take time to do some deeper research. Tailor your response to directly address the Authority’s specific social value goals. 

Demonstrate how your social value offer will contribute to their priorities with concrete examples and credible social value metrics.

3. Present measurable outcomes

Vague promises of “positive social impact” won’t impress evaluators.  Outline the specific, measurable outcomes your project will deliver ensuring that you identify the beneficiaries of your social value.

This could involve creating a certain number of training opportunities in the contract’s workforce, reducing your carbon footprint by a specific percentage, or increasing the number of diverse hires from under-represented groups including long-term unemployed, disabled, cultural subgroups, NEETs, army veterans and those who have previously been in prison.

4. Highlight existing initiatives and partnerships

Don’t wait for the tender to start your social value efforts.  Pepper your submission with examples of existing social value initiatives your company has initiated and highlight successful partnerships that demonstrate your commitment and ability to driving positive change.

5. Think SMART

Frame your social value commitments using the SMART principle.  Ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This demonstrates a well-thought-out execution plan with a clear path to success.

Words of wisdom…. be realistic and avoid overpromising. 

While it’s important to be ambitious and showcase a competitive social value offering, focus on what you can realistically achieve within the scope of the project, leveraging your company’s skillsets and capacity.

By following these simple steps, you can craft a compelling social value response that sets your tender apart and positions you as a strong contender for the public contract. 

Remember, social value isn’t just a box to tick – thinking in social impact terms has become an expected approach to conducting business responsibly.  More widely, it presents the organisation with the opportunity to demonstrate its ability and commitment to running a sustainable business and making a positive difference in society. 

If you’d like to understand more about how to answer the social value question in tenders or how to accelerate your social value strategy, get in touch with us at Thrive to see if we can help.