This article appraises the scope and legal obligations of the UK Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. The law, by imposing on public authorities an obligation to consider wider social, economic and environmental benefits before they enter into major public service contracts, in principle improves service outcomes for communities, and it also facilitates better access for third sector organisations to public contracting opportunities. But evidence of the legislation’s impact has been mixed. It is, at this stage, promising in its ambition but with little prescriptive legal force in practice. The article suggests that community and third sector organisations should promote an experimentalist governance framework that imposes non-legal accountability on commissioning authorities for social value, by linking them into an iterative peer-review process.
- Experimentalist governance
- public contracting
- social value
- third sector
- UK Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012