Our construction frameworks allow schools to embed social value in the way most appropriate to their circumstances. 5 top tips on what you need to consider


Social value in procurement is about making sure that what you buy creates additional benefits for society. To get it right, you need to start thinking as early as possible about how to apply it to what you are buying.

The PPN 06/20 policy note highlighted changes that mean public sector buyers are required to think differently about how they secure social value from the goods and services they buy for their local area.

This significant policy change meant that social value became a mainstream priority in all public sector procurement from 2021 onwards.

What is social value and why is it important for schools?

A properly planned and delivered school building project not only has the potential to have a transformational impact on the lives of learners but it can also be beneficial to the wider community, provided social value considerations are taken into account during the procurement process.

Social value is created when projects support environmental, economic and social wellbeing. In the case of school construction, this might involve commissioning a project that requires the suppliers bidding for the work to state what environmental benefits they would offer should they win the contract. These could include installing solar panels to supplement the energy supply to sourcing sustainable materials.

When a school signs a new contract, they can ask prospective suppliers to consider what they would be able to offer in terms of social value themes; this could include creating local employment opportunities, reducing energy and water consumption, detection and prevention of modern slavery or minimising damage to the environment

What precise environmental, economic and social outcomes you choose to prioritise is up to you but your bid evaluation exercise will work much better if you have a clear understanding of what your social value ‘ask’ is from the start. This will help you to draft your specification and evaluation questions and avoid any sense that social value is arbitrary.

To ensure that there are clear lines of sight between your social value expectations and what suppliers can offer, here’s our 5 top tips on what you need to consider.

  1. Embed throughout the project

Focus on embedding social value considerations throughout the project. For larger projects consider a project specific social value strategy. Don’t wait until the main contractor tender to start thinking about it either, consider writing clear guidance around social value and what is expected in the brief.

  1. Don’t ask for everything

Early community engagement brings tailored social outcomes. This will help your team to be able to focus on what social value outcomes you want for your project and help to avoid you asking for everything. What are the key themes for the area of construction? Does it have a high unemployment rate? Engage with local charities and social enterprises to find out what’s important to them.

  1. Consider what questions to ask at tender stage

Tailor your questions to be project specific and drive a SMART answer. Think carefully about who you ask to assess and score these questions, it should be someone with the right skills and experience to know a good answer from a bad one.

  1. Make it contractual and monitor

Getting some great social value outcomes at the tender stage is fantastic, but it’s really important that this is fed through and delivered. One way to do this is to convert these promises into social value KPI’s that are monitored throughout.

  1. Ask for data

Include clear instructions on exactly what you want captured. For example, if you’re asking for contractors to train apprentices, ask them to record apprentice initials and postcode, the programme, level and start and end dates so that you can interrogate the data. Ensure your contract has a right to audit clause and that any data you collect is GDPR compliant.

How CCS can help support your next school building project

Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) construction frameworks allow customers to embed social value in the way most appropriate to their circumstances.

There’s a wide range of social value related considerations, such as opportunities for disadvantaged groups, contributing to achieving healthy communities, driving climate change, and with recent impacts of EU exit on labour, social value that considers upskilling the workforce and providing job opportunities has become more important than ever

Find out more

For more advice on including social value in your construction projects, CLICK HERE