Social Value Commitment

Social Value Commitment

Working together with local people and city partners from the voluntary, private, and public sectors, we have developed a Social Value Commitment for the city. In January 2020 a refreshed commitment was approved by Cabinet and the principles set out below now shape all of the commissioning and procuring that we do as a Council. 

We encourage all city partners to adopt these principles in their own commissioning and procurement.

What is Social Value?

Social value is value that accrues in our local communities.  It is what residents say is valuable to them, like a clean and safe place to live, fair and sustainable employment or equal access to good quality local services. Social value is not added value - it is designed and embedded into the goods, works or services we procure.

Our Principles

In developing our local Commitment, we have talked with local partners from the city’s social enterprise, voluntary, charitable and private sectors to find out what they and their stakeholders think social value is in Newcastle, and how they think it should be recognised.  These partnership discussions have led us to set out the following principles.

Green and sustainable (including climate change mitigation)

We are committed to Climate Change Mitigation in our own activity and recognise that we have a key role to play in supporting businesses and communities to tackle the causes of climate change.

  • We will ensure our own high performance as part of our Climate Change (Mitigation) Strategy and Waste Strategy Action Plan
  • We will work with organisations to promote green and sustainable practice in their activity.
  • We will design proportionate green and sustainable practice requirements in contract opportunities
  • We will seek to work with providers who demonstrate awareness of their environmental impact and their strategy to minimise it

We will support organisations to consider their local environmental impact and offer strategies for improving their carbon footprint and waste management in the city

Think, buy, support Newcastle

Local Investment can take many forms. In our own activity and in the delivery of contracts on our behalf, we are committed to generating Social Value throughout local supply chains that benefits Newcastle residents.

  • Where the market allows, we will prioritise targeting our procurement spend towards Newcastle-based organisations, local supply chains, resources and buildings
  • We will value investment in local people through employment and volunteering opportunities, apprenticeship and training programmes and work skills development opportunities
  • We will value inclusive employment and skills development opportunities for Newcastle residents who face disadvantage or inequality

We will work collaboratively with the city’s anchor organisations to maximise Social Value in our joint investment.

Community focussed

We seek to deliver Social Value that that is meaningful to Newcastle residents. We recognise that community involvement is key to this and will actively include communities in shaping outcomes for the city.

  • We will seek the views of our communities in designing opportunities for Social Value in the services we provide
  • We will promote the importance of community co-design to other organisations in the city
  • We will value providers who involve communities in shaping the delivery of their contracts
  • We will value contract delivery that prioritises community inclusion, supports local community initiatives and shares community skills and resources for the benefit of local residents

We will support community organisations to work together to maximise their strengths and increase their capacity


Ethical leadership

Social Value should be embedded in our ethics and those of the organisations we contract with. We will actively promote our Social Value principles to others, encouraging them to adopt and share good ethical practices.

  • We will demonstrate good ethical leadership through ethical quality standards, training and practice
  • We will promote good ethical leadership to organisations, leading by example and supporting others to adopt good practice
  • We will seek to work with providers who demonstrate good working practices and standards, and those who want to improve their ethical approach

We will value organisations that influence others to adopt high ethical standards through partnership working and sharing good practice

Identifying, implementing and measuring Social Value

Social Value in commissioning and procurement

Although our ambition is to create Social Value through all Council activity, we recognise that the way we buy goods, works and services for the city is a very important lever for Social Value.  

Our approach to Social Value complies with the requirements of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2013 to consider: how what is proposed to be procured might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area [Newcastle]; how, in conducting the process of procurement, we consider only matters relevant to what is proposed to be procured and, in doing so, consider the extent to which it is proportionate in all the circumstances to take these matters into account. 

This means that by designing opportunities for Social Value during the entire commissioning and procurement cycle, we ensure that stakeholders are actively involved in shaping the way it strengthens contract delivery. 

Commissioning for Social Value

The goods, works and services we buy are divided into categories and sub categories (see section 12) according their connection by a common market, user group or policy agenda. We consider ways to maximise the Social Value generated in each sub-category and category by prioritising key outcomes and facilitating the sharing of skills and resources.

When we first look at a category or sub-category to analyse needs, strengths, gaps or risks, we also consider how the skills, knowledge and resources of organisations in that marketplace can contribute to the Social Value outcomes we want to achieve. We consider contract lengths, lots and geography to respond to readiness of our local markets, ensuring that Social Value can be incorporated in the procurement phase.

In engagement and consultation with potential providers, we focus not only on what we intend to buy from them, but also on the ways they run their organisation. By understanding their ethos, processes, local connections and plans for the future, we can make the strongest connections between what they can achieve and who will benefit.  During engagement and consultation, we also include voluntary and community sector representation by inviting organisations to participate in sessions that build awareness of community action and explore relationships that develop community skills and assets.

When we finalise a commissioning model and define contract opportunities, we may if appropriate include performance and activity indicators drawn from our Social Value outcomes framework or include Social Value focused special requirements in the contract documents.

Procuring for Social Value

The chosen route for procurement incorporates consideration given to local markets during the commissioning phase. Tender evaluation questions are included to assess a potential provider’s contribution to Social Value opportunities identified in the tender specification and evaluation of Social Value responses is conducted in line with the award criteria set out in the procurement documentation.

Weighting for Social Value criteria in tender evaluation is allocated in proportion to the requirements of the contract, considering the opportunities for Social Value identified during the commissioning phase. Scoring also includes Social Value innovation offered by organisations in their response to Social Value priorities defined in the tender specification.

Contract managing for Social Value

During the life of the contract, we maintain an open dialogue with providers about the Social Value they are achieving and how we can support them to make further impact. If we have included performance or activity measures drawn from our outcomes framework in the contract these will be evaluated in line with our contract management matrix. We also gather qualitative information from providers, such as case studies, to illustrate the impact of their Social Value activity.

Working collaboratively for Social Value

When we commission and procure in collaboration with partners, we consider how Social Value can be designed to meet the requirements of all parties and maximise impact. Where we lead collaborative projects, we can demonstrate the efficacy of embedding Social Value from the start of the process to partners and influence them to adopt our approach.

Social Value Tools

With support from, local stakeholders, B2B North, and the Department for Culture Media and Sport, we have developed an approach to identifying and securing social value opportunities through the whole commissioning and procurement cycle. We have worked hard to respond to the requirements of the Social Value Act including ‘designing in’ social value during the service design phase, as well as setting out how we will implement social value opportunities identified during the procurement and contract management phases. 

This process responds to the principle of ensuring a ‘Fair Share’ identified by the Newcastle Fairness Commission, as it seeks to balance and give equal voice to the needs of all stakeholders - communities, businesses, service users, consumers.

We have developed a set of social value opportunity identification (SVOI) questions which we use to identify social value opportunities where appropriate.  These are set out below along with information about where in the commissioning and procurement process you can expect to see changes as a result. The SVOI questions were tested through two trial social value opportunity Identification sessions with stakeholders; you can read more about this testing in the B2B North report to the Cabinet Office.

The SVOI framework is considered in all commissioning exercises using methods that are proportionate with the nature, value and sensitivity of the content.  For major commissioning exercises, for example for those cited in our commissioning intentions the SVOI questions may be used as the basis for a stakeholder event.  For lower value or less sensitive exercises we may use a Let’s Talk consultation, direct communication with interested providers and residents, and/or answer the SVOI questions by talking to relevant Council officers.

Social Value Outcomes Identification Framework


Questions we will ask

Green and Sustainable

(including Climate Change Mitigation)

How can organisations account for the impact of their activity on the environment and act to improve it? How can their activity contribute to Climate Change mitigation? How does this affect Newcastle residents? – Think about resources used and improvement action, local and sustainable sourcing of materials, training and awareness raising within the organisation and in the wider community, investment in green spaces and the local built environment


Answers may influence: Service design and our requirements; contract clauses; evaluation questions and methodology; performance and activity indicators; and the procurement process including elements of the SQ.

Think, Buy, Support Newcastle

How can the local or regional market deliver increased benefit to Newcastle residents?  – Think about local supply chains, use of local resources, employment, training and social benefits.


Answers may influence: Service design and our requirements; evaluation questions or methodology; performance or activity indicators

Community Focused

How can the wider community* be involved in delivery? How can the strengths of community groups, buildings, knowledge and resources be supported through both contract design and delivery? – Think about community data (and what it tells us about community needs and strengths). Think about how sustainable links between delivery organisations and communities can be built.

* communities can be defined by place, interest, need, identification


Answers may influence: Contract geography decisions linked to Lot Structure; performance or activity indicators

Ethical leadership

How can organisations demonstrate good ethical leadership in the way they operate and the way they influence others? – Think about quality standards, policies and initiatives to reduce inequality and improve health and wellness, quality of employment practices and participation in social action.

  Answers may influence: Service design and our requirements; contract clauses; evaluation questions and methodology; performance and activity indicators; and the procurement process including elements of the SQ.

Social Value Outcomes and Measures Framework

To support design and delivery of Social Value in Newcastle, we will use a framework of outcomes that reflect our principles and measures that demonstrate the diversity of activity that generates Social Value in our city.

This framework supports all elements of our Social Value approach, from identifying priority outcomes for a project, place or community, to co-designing the activity that can contribute to those outcomes and recording achievements.

The framework has been created in consultation with local businesses and the voluntary sector, from working examples of Social Value in Newcastle. The measures, or indicators, of activity that contribute to outcomes in this framework are designed with three key principles in mind:

  • to clearly contribute to outcomes in Newcastle’s four Social Value themes
  • to be measured in units that are meaningful to Newcastle residents
  • to be accessible to organisations of all types and sizes

We will review and refresh the framework in consultation with stakeholders annually.

Social Value Outcomes Framework

Implementing the Framework

Activity that contributes towards outcomes in the Framework is identified in a set of measurements, or indicators, that represent the capacity and ambition of organisations in Newcastle to deliver Social Value. These indicators can be used to create opportunities for Social Value in project or service design, and to measure their delivery.

By applying indicators from the Framework to our activity, we will gain a better understanding of its impact on the city as a whole and gather valuable insight that will enable us to shape both our future priorities and the readiness of local organisations to support them.

The Framework will be applied to our own activity as a Council to influence our actions as an employer, shape the way we design and deliver services, and support the way that we influence city stakeholders to do the same. We know that the impact of our actions is stronger and more sustained when delivered in partnership, and so we hope that others will sign up to this Commitment.




Did you know?

When Newcastle became a Fairtrade City in 2003 we were one of the first cities in the country to achieve this, and we've kept up our status ever since. All of the food and drink that we buy through our contracts is Fairtrade certified, which helps make sure that producers are paid a fair amount for their goods;

All of the paper and timber we buy is Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) accredited, meaning that we only buy from the most ethical and sustainable sources;

We are signed up to the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Construction Charter, meaning that workers on our works contracts get access to fair and safe conditions.

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