D Insights
May 3, 2024

Is Achieving Greater Social Value Through Procurement a Political Vanity Project?

Read the full report
Not loading? We may be experiencing high traffic. Request the full report PDF here.
Read the full articleDownload the full D Insight

Is Achieving Greater Social Value Through Procurement a Political Vanity Project?

This is the first in our in our series of events and associated publications focusing on specific topics and how a future Labour Government might approach those issues. In this session Nick Forbes began by discussing the latest news from Westminster and Labour circles, and then examined Labour’s approach to social value and how it differs from that of the current Conservative Government. He also answered questions from the floor.

The latest in Westminster: internal politics

Wes Streeting has been in the Sun recently, writing about the role of private healthcare in reducing NHS waiting lists, arguing it is morally indefensible not to consider all options to do so. This is deeply symbolic for Labour; for many, the Sun is seen as hostile publication by many in the party and suggests the leadership is more focused on appearing pragmatic than ideological.

Balancing winning over swing voters, (particularly 2019’s Lab/Con switchers who now feel let down by the Conservatives) with internal party politics and ideological positions is a key challenge for the Labour Party, likely to carry through into a Labour Government. For example, discussion over the Israel/Gaza conflict is currently dominating internal policy discussions, particularly around whether a Labour Government would ban the sale of arms to Israel.

How different factions within the party (such as the cooperative movement and trade union movement) view key policy perspectives could influence flagship Labour policy, such as how the Treasury is managed.

Labour’s perspective on the Treasury and managing public money

It is possible Labour plan to repurpose the Treasury and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) towards regional growth and could measure policy success along regional growth lines.

This would mark a move away from the ‘value for money’ approach, with Labour potentially changing the Treasury’s approach to policy review and spending. This could be by reworking parts of the ‘Treasury Green Book’ and ‘Managing Public Money’ documents.

What are Labour’s core priorities for social value?

Social, environmental and labour market reform are the three core priorities for Labour’s social value policy. Labour is also likely to take a cross-strategy view on social value, weaving it across government departments as a strategic goal and extending it beyond the procurement process.

For example, Labour sees supply chain resilience, regional industrial strategy and social value as mutually reinforcing goals, and will prioritise these over best value for money/lowest cost in the procurement process.

Childcare is likely to be prioritised given that it is currently prohibitively expensive and is a barrier to greater opportunity. This is part of a broader view within Labour that many (particularly those outside London) feel a strong disconnect from a low wage, gig and zero hours economy that does not have their best interests at its core.

How will Labour work with industry?

There are still fundamental questions that need to be answered in the way Labour works with industry. The private sector’s perspective on social value has changed enormously since Labour was last in government, with environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors now a priority.

This is where dialogue with industry will be important in the run up to and in the aftermath in the event of a Labour victory at the General Election. This could inform whether Labour will see the private sector or central government as the main driver of social value.

What next?

Have the topics in this brief overview piqued your interest? If so, please do consider signing up to one of the upcoming events in our Election Watch series. They are:

Wednesday 8th May: The Devolution Arms and Place Race

Thursday 23rd May: Britain’s Place in the World: Linking Foreign and Defence Policy with Trade

Wednesday 12th June: Britain’s Place in the World: Does Charity Begin at Home?

Wednesday 26th June: What is Infrastructure for Opportunity and Does it Mean Game Over for Levelling Up?

Wednesday 3rd July: Britain’s Place in the World: Using UK Soft Power More Effectively

Wednesday 17th July: Can a Revised Skills Approach Prevent Net Zero from Widening Inequalities?

You can sign up to these events on our websites:



The views expressed in this podcast are those of the contributors and do not reflect the views of The D Group.  

Further Insights

Weekly Update
Sign up to receive our weekly update, including a full programme of briefings each Friday