Public spending creates large markets for goods and services: total UK public procurement amounted to £292 billion in 2018/19, around 14 per cent of GDP or 36 per cent of total government spending. Standards driving procurement decisions can therefore have a powerful effect in supporting and encouraging good business behaviours.

The Public Services (Social Value) Act introduced in 2012 seeks to use public spending to create value for society. Indeed there is evidence that since the passing of the act, social value is being given greater emphasis in procurement decisions and that engagement within the private sector has also increased.

Despite this progress, at present only a small proportion of current public procurement spending (estimated at about 9 per cent (White 2017) encourages more responsible business practices.

This report finds that a number of challenges must be overcome if social value is to achieve a more transformational role in driving better business decisions across the economy. To achieve this the approach, legislation and measurement surrounding social value needs to be strengthened and made far more robust.