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Social value can ‘rebalance markets’ – Social Enterprise UK

New EU procurement rules could help to rebalance public sector markets, Social Enterprise UK says.

The rules are expected to come into force in the UK in 2014 and will give public bodies the flexibility to take social and environmental value created by a service provider into account when awarding contracts.

They will also be able to consider poor performance from bidders under previous contracts and reserve awarding health, social and cultural service contracts exclusively to social enterprises for a limited period.

Social Enterprise UK has published a new report, Out of the Shadows?, welcoming the rules and detailing progress since the introduction of the Social Value Act. The report calls for the Act to be strengthened to ensure implementation and for an independent contracting oversight body to be established to scrutinise contracting decisions.

Public bodies must act on the new flexibility the EU rules will offer, the report urges.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “These new EU rules are good news for society – they recognise that public service markets don’t always put people first.

“The laws could make a positive contribution at a critical time – currently the UK’s public sector markets and contracts are too heavily weighted in favour of private companies who are on a money mission and the consequences are being felt by ordinary people – the taxpayer, workers and service users – who are being short changed.

“The EU rules can rebalance the markets. Social enterprise providers deserve a bigger seat at the public sector commissioning table because they’re businesses with a social mission, not a money mission.”

The September/October 2013 edition of PSE covers the public procurement changes in detail. Subscribe at or see the latest edition online here.

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