Inclusive economies: Manchester City Council considering social value in procurement

"The proportion of local expenditure has increased from 51.5 per cent in 2008/09 to 69.9 per cent in 2018/19 which represents an additional £138 million in the local economy."


Manchester City Council has been considering social value in its procurement and commissioning as a way of driving a more inclusive economy for a number of years. In 2015, it increased its social value consideration from 10 per cent to 20 per cent. At the time, there was much debate around the right percentage weighting for social value and many councils applied weightings of just 5 per cent.

Manchester has six social value objectives against which all suppliers of goods, services or work are assessed:

• promoting employment and economic sustainability
• raising the living standards of local residents
• promoting participation and citizen engagement
• building capacity and sustainability of the voluntary and community sector
• promoting equity and fairness
• promoting environmental sustainability.

In 2020, Manchester is trialling an additional 10 per cent – taking its social value weighting to 30 per cent – on highways contracts. The additional 10 per cent is earmarked for environmental value, reflecting the council’s declaration of a climate emergency.

Manchester monitors its social value annually with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies. The proportion of local expenditure has increased from 51.5 per cent in 2008/09 to 69.9 per cent in 2018/19 which represents an additional £138 million in the local economy (CLES 2020). It also helps support 561 apprenticeships, 1,579 jobs, and 7,730 employment opportunities for hard-to-reach individuals in Greater Manchester (ibid).

By understanding that procurement and commissioning was a key lever, and an asset, of the council in building a more inclusive economy, Manchester City Council re-orientated its approach to ensure that it maximised its expenditure in the local economy and that this expenditure was helping to meet its objectives. Manchester also refers to its inclusive economy objectives in its procurement strategy–ensuring that procurement teams have a keen understanding of this priority. This can be applied to other areas of council policy, and helps to ensure teams that are rightly focused on the services and areas that they are responsible for, have an appreciation of wider objectives, particularly related to the inclusive growth agenda.