New Values : Assessing the landscape for social value and strategic procurement

Work in progress

New Values : Assessing the landscape for social value and strategic procurement

Context and case for innovation of local strategic procurement

In the context of an evolving public procurement landscape, local authorities in England are grappling with multiple challenges and opportunities. An increasing strategic turn in procurement is being reflected by legislative reforms, notably the pending Procurement Bill, which aims to simplify and modernise the system. Concurrently, local authorities are about to be given the statutory duty to align their procurement strategies with national priorities.

The substance of these national priorities is vague when described by central government, but contemporary discourse and practice suggests Net Zero and Levelling Up are most appropriate to pursue through local public procurement. However, the responsibilities of the new reforms for local authorities are complicated by the fact that the capacity of local government is in a worse state than it was in 2019, despite financial uplift and a widespread recognition of the value of strategic procurement at the local level – as evinced by the 2023 Procurement Act.

As the country nears the next election, the urgency to re-evaluate public procurement and its relation to national priorities is heightened.

Influenced by Brexit, pandemic recovery, and incoming reforms, the practice of public procurement and capacity of those responsible locally are critical matters of policy – particularly in anticipation of a potentially significant shift in national priorities post-election. Moreover, despite a consensus on the strategic importance of procurement, there is a significant gap between this understanding and actual implementation and the capacity to do so throughout local government.

Also, the aforementioned changing regulatory landscape presents both opportunities and challenges that many in the sector have already begun to innovate in accordance with – understanding these innovations and bringing them to the fore is crucial. This timely research aims to offer a comprehensive understanding of the current state of public procurement, providing actionable insights to guide both policy and practice in anticipation of public procurement reforms and a national election.

At its core, this research serves as an update to our 2021 ‘True Value’ report. The research will involve revisiting the key findings and recommendations of Localis’s previous research into maximising place-based social value to assess and their relevance and applicability considering the current context, particularly with regard to how upcoming reforms have developed and the role public procurement has played in post-COVID recovery and economic renewal.

  • A general update to the themes raised in True Value.
  • Local innovations and potential for change from passing of the Procurement Act in 2023 and themes of the 2020s so far.
  • Looking ahead to the general election, the next parliament and next full spending – what will be the national priorities of the near future?
  • Conclusions and recommendations for the next decade.

Research kindly sponsored by:

LGC Awards 2024 - nodes24