Supporting care leavers through procurement – a social value toolkit


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Trowers & Hamlins has been working with the Care Leaver Covenant (the Covenant) to prepare a social value toolkit to help support care leavers through public procurement.

The toolkit can be downloaded from the Covenant's website here.

The toolkit recognises that many local authorities have already developed excellent local offers to support care leavers, but highlights that there are further opportunities to achieve social impact for care leavers that can be identified through the procurement process.

The toolkit promotes a "Whole Council Approach" to the achievement of social value, recommending that local authorities take a "top down" approach and form a whole council forum to enable an integrated response in the council  to achieving relevant social impact outcomes, including ensuring  that procurement practices are used effectively to create a range of new opportunities for care leavers.

Whilst the Toolkit is aimed predominantly at councils (as "corporate parents", statutorily responsible for the welfare of those in care and care leavers), it can also be used by housing associations and other organisations seeking to support care leavers through their procurement activity. Housing associations already support the Covenant, with Peabody being the first to sign up to it.

With that in mind, we would encourage councils, housing associations and other place-makers to read the toolkit ahead of their future procurements.

What is the Covenant?

The Covenant is a programme developed under the Department for Education's "Keep on Caring" policy and it aims to improve outcomes for care leavers. It seeks to create practical, specific, offers by organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to support care leavers in living independently.

A care leaver is a young person aged 16-25 who has been looked after for at least 13 weeks in total. Compared with their peers, children in care face multiple challenges. They are more likely to underachieve in education, be lured into crime and suffer more emotional and health problems. Care leavers are also three times more likely to be NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and are at greater risk of financial hardship, homelessness and poor mental health. Most care leavers will lack the social networks to support them in leading independent, fulfilling lives and the Covenant seeks to address these challenges by promoting five key outcomes so that care leavers are;

  • better prepared to live independently;
  • have improved access to employment, education and training;
  • experience stability in their lives and feel safe and secure;
  • have improved access to health support; and
  • achieve financial stability.

The Whole Council Approach

The "Whole Council Approach" encourages organisations to involve stakeholders across the whole council (not just social services) to form a self-organising group to take forward the Covenant's agenda, recognising that more social impact and value can be created if a "top-down" approach is taken. This approach avoids silos and recognises that all relevant council departments should be involved in the scoping of the community investment requirement. This also helps take a more strategic view of the overall social value agenda and should hopefully avoid putting too much pressure on the higher value contracts to deliver all of the required social value outcomes. 

The toolkit

The toolkit is designed to assist with the adoption of the Whole Council Approach, and to assist the council in securing the five key outcomes of the Covenant through their procurement processes, many of which can be aligned with their existing social value objectives. It has been drafted to complement the LGA's National Procurement Strategy and anticipates the use of the Social Value Portal's TOMS framework. Alternatively, the toolkit can be used by housing associations seeking to use HACT's Wellbeing Valuation Approach and its Social Value Bank of metrics. 

The toolkit is designed to be used by anybody involved in a procurement process and sets out introductory background to the public procurement regime, as well as guidance on how social value outcomes can be effectively incorporated into the procurement process as well as template wording that can be used, if required.

Incorporating social value into each stage of the public procurement process

The toolkit explains how organisations can incorporate social value into every stage of the procurement process, starting with effective pre-market engagement (with both care leavers, and with potential bidders). This engagement exercise can help clients frame their social value requirements ahead of the procurement to ensure that the tenders received will meet (or exceed)  the requirements and secure the impact and outcomes it desires.

The toolkit also explains how (where the procurement procedure permits the use of a selection stage) organisations can use the selection questionnaire as an opportunity to evaluate bidders' past experience in delivering social value objectives. The toolkit provides example wording that can be included to test experience in this area, as well as explore how bidders have ensured that their supply-chains can also deliver the required social value outcomes.

Organisations will also find example wording for the invitation to tender, as well as guidance on how to express its required social value outcomes as bid requirements or award criteria. This is the opportunity for organisations to evaluate and explore how bidders will ensure that their supply-chain will secure social value impact through performance of the contract and clients need to draft evaluation criteria that allow them to evaluate potentially different social value offers on a like-for-like basis.

Finally, the toolkit provides guidance on how contract management plays an essential role in ensuring the effective delivery of the required social value outcomes to support care leavers and should not be overlooked or underestimated.

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