With senior procurement and supply chain professionals in public sector departments preparing for the Local Government Procurement Expo (LGPE) 2018 on 28 November, many will have a key question: “LGPE show 2018 – what to expect?” Cabinet Minister David Lidington has given a provisional answer: greater emphasis on social value.

This week, Mr Lidington announced a new procurement model in central government, requiring an evaluation of the social impact of its contracts to outsource public services.

The announcement will not surprise professionals in local government procurement jobs, who have implemented the National Procurement Strategy (NPS) for local government, updated this summer. Lidington’s announcement is in line with one of its key priorities: value.

He explained that the changes will lift barriers to government contracts for small businesses and social enterprises – contractsworth£48 billion per year. The new model will also focus on “improving skills and employment opportunities for the disadvantaged and increasing equality and diversity in the workforce.”

Mr Lidington acknowledged the debt the new model owes to the NPS, which he said was already used to assess social impact in areas of local government.

He said, “We will ensure this further levels the playing field for our small businesses and social enterprises – they are closest to our communities and will be in the best possible position to deliver social value through the contract.”

He went on to clarify that achieving the optimal commercial outcome would remain the overarching aim for the Government’s commercial procurement activities. But, he added, “it is right that we also use government’s purchasing power to support key social outcomes.”

Welcoming the announcement, the director of External Affairs at Social Enterprise UK, Andrew O’Brien, said that more than 100,000 social enterprises contribute £60bn to UK GDP, and the new procurement would help grow the sector further.

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