Chris White is the Member of Parliament for Warwick and Leamington. Follow Chris on Twitter.
Today the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, also known as the Social Value Act, which I introduced over two and a half years ago, will be officially implemented across public sector bodies including NHS Trusts, local authorities and central government departments.
The Act is short and simple. But it seeks to change the way that public sector bodies design contracts so that they consider what additional social, economic and environmental well-being they can produce in the way that they deliver the services that we all use. It builds on a number of principles which the Conservative Party articulated in the run up to the General Election.
Firstly, it seeks to focus public service delivery on outcomes rather than inputs. Public services should not just be about the amount of money you spend, but what you achieve with that money. The Social Value Act asks public sector commissioners to think carefully about the contracts they are designing and to see how we can get as many positive outcomes for our communities as possible through the way that we deliver public services.
Secondly, it is hoped that the Act will benefit social enterprises, charities and community organisations who I believe are best placed to deliver many of our public services. In opposition, we rightly sought to champion the potential that exists in civil society and the social enterprise sector to improve our public services. These organisations are rooted in the very communities they serve, and this makes them best placed to develop tailored solutions to deal with some of our most pressing challenges. In designing contracts which take account of social value, I believe that more of these organisations will have the opportunity to win public service contracts and show what they can achieve.