Assembly Written Question 10950/17-22
Question: To ask the Minister of Finance for an update on the progress of introducing a Social Value Bill to the Assembly; and whether he will commit to attempting to pass such legislation before the end of this Assembly Mandate.
Answer: A key priority for me is to deliver maximum social value from public procurement and that includes a Social Value Act. Procurement resources have been focused on responding to the outbreak of COVID-19 to source PPE and manage contractors to continue delivering essential public services in challenging times. This has impacted on progressing the legislation and I will have my officials explore if it is still possible to bring a Social Value Bill to the Assembly during the current term. Unfortunately it is not simply a matter of replicating Britain’s 2012 Social Value Act. A 2015 review found that following the legislation “the incorporation of social value in actual procurement appears to be relatively low”. It is therefore important that legislation introduced here learns the lessons from the 2012 legislation, and social value legislation in other jurisdictions so that it is effective. I will be bringing a proposal to the Procurement Board to make inclusion of social value a mandatory policy of public procurement exercises when it meets on 16 December. When the proposal is finalised with the Procurement Board I will be seeking agreement from Executive colleagues for all Departments to comply with this policy. I will also be discussing Social Value legislation with the Board, which includes Colin Jess of Social Enterprise.