Social value: what it is, how it’s used in procurement and why all businesses should be embedding it in everything they do

“Social Value” is the umbrella term used to describe the difference an organisation, business or project can make to the community they are operating within. It asks the question, ‘If £1 is spent on the delivery of services, can that same £1 be used to also produce a wider benefit to the community?’ (Ref: Social Enterprise UK).

Making the most of your contribution to society

You may already measure the Social Value you create. If not, it’s never too late to start. This could be supporting your local economy, for example by employing local people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds who face greater barriers to work. It might be buying from other local businesses, promoting and participating in a circular economy more prosperously while reducing land and air miles. You might also reduce waste and implement environmentally-friendly operations. 

Social Value in the public sector

Social value goes to the heart of what public bodies are about, aimed at supporting a green, inclusive, economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic. Under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, local authorities have to consider social value when procuring and awarding contracts. The weightage in the scoring systems applied when tendering new contracts is increasing. So, not only do organisations and businesses need to consider what their social value contribution is, but also how to measure and demonstrate it.

As we learn to live and work in a post-COVID economy, local authorities need to ensure that an appropriately-skilled workforce is available locally to meet the immediate and emerging needs, and that the talent pipeline is in place to future-proof jobs, businesses and workers with the agility and resilience needed in a shifting labour market.

The public sector looks favourably to businesses that support and invest in their employees, as these have been proven to be more profitable, add more value, and are better respected in the community. As many employers will testify, engaging employees brings significant benefits: lower turnover of staff, a more motivated and dedicated workforce, and new insights, ideas and perspectives to help an organisation succeed. 

One of the biggest benefits of Social Value comes from the wider financial and non-financial value that your organisation can create in terms of the wellbeing of individuals and communities. Getting involved in local projects is a great way to be part of your community, building its strength and resilience; and help to make sure that no one from any background gets left behind.

Social Value in the private sector

For every £1 you generate, how many pounds in wider value are created for society? This can be broken down into five categories;

  • Jobs: Promoting local skills and employment for all
  • Growth: Supporting the growth of responsible local business
  • Social: Fostering healthier, safer and more resilient communities
  • Environment: Providing cleaner and greener spaces, promoting sustainable procurement and safeguarding the planet
  • Innovation: Promoting new ideas and social innovation.

With all these actions, your end customer may not seem to directly benefit, but society does (e.g. from cleaner air), and that then influences customer choice. It’s no secret that end customers are placing increasing importance on the business values of where and who they buy from.

How does the fabl address social value?

At the fabl, we support an increased awareness and application of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These are 17 different social and environmental agendas for businesses, governments and the wider international community to work towards, including zero hunger, gender equality, clean water, quality education and climate action, to name a few. 

Let’s talk about trees…

There’s a  global focus on being carbon neutral by 2030, and with just eight years left to achieve this the fabl is committed to playing our part. 

Our office team car-shares and we arrange office working hours around the bus timetable to promote the use of public transport to and from the office.

Our office is based on the Broughton Hall Business Estate, we have chosen to support The Broughton Sanctuary Nature Recovery Programme. This is one of the largest tree planting schemes in England. In partnership with the White Rose Forest, the community forest for West and North Yorkshire, 160 hectares of trees (396 acres) have been planted, the equivalent of 224 football pitches. 

Around 250,000 trees have been planted so far and the rewilding project will help reduce water run-off into local rivers and help protect communities in the Aire river valley, from Skipton down to Leeds City Centre, from the risk of future floods. The project is also strategically important within the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.

This year – 2022 – the fabl celebrates our 16th anniversary. To mark this milestone, we are planting a tree for every year of our operations and further pledge to plant a tree for every print publication we create for our clients – currently around 20 per year. 

This takes our contribution towards the national scheme to 36 trees this year. Through this project we are helping to grow White Rose Forest, the community forest in North and West Yorkshire, and the larger Northern forest, which will stretch from Merseyside to the Yorkshire coast.


Click here to read more about Social Value at the fabl. When your business is ready to explore the potential of Social Value, give us a call or drop us an email and let’s chat.