Outcomes-based commissioning

How Social Enterprise Mark CIC accreditation can help

The public services commissioning landscape is undergoing substantial changes; 

Budgets are tighter than they have ever been, and maintaining public confidence and positive perceptions is a constant challenge – one that needs to be managed if initiatives are to be delivered successfully and on time.

Positive social and environmental outcomes are a strong motivator in decision making

There are many terms used to describe these outcomes; “sustainability”, “social value” or “social and environmental impact; it’s all about the same thing – delivering over and above the core service. For example, creating additional jobs, enhancing skills, and reducing homelessness, to name just a few.

Following The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 coming into force, health, social care and public services providers are under increasing pressure to prove how their services can contribute to economic, social and environmental well-being. In other words, they need to prove that they are committed to creating long-term positive outcomes, in addition to delivering the contracted service(s).


Lucy Finday, Managing Director of Social Enterprise Mark CIC, explains how social enterprise accreditation can help public sector commissioners to embed social value in procurement


When contracting for public services, commissioners are looking for positive social outcomes, which have a lasting impact and can be clearly demonstrated to stakeholders, and are encouraged to consider providers based on the total outcomes created, rather than purely on cost.

Dave Sweeney

“Social value is now a contractual agreement across all major providers including acute trusts. Training and support is being developed to ensure social value is part of everything we do.

NHS Halton have recently commissioned a cultural strategy to broaden the approach and embed social value in the community – also being backed by a sustainability strategy which aims to identify the environmental elements of a CCG approach.”

Dave SweeneyDirector of Transformation NHS Halton CCG
(Quote from The Social Value Difference in Health and Care Commissioning; Final Report, Social Enterprise UK)



The Social Enterprise Mark and Social Enterprise Gold Mark can help embed an outcomes-based approach to commissioning public services.

Organisations awarded the Social Enterprise Mark or Gold Mark have met a baseline measure to demonstrate their social value – they have proved they are committed to using income and profits to maximise social benefit, which takes precedent over generating dividends for owners and shareholders.

All applicants for the Social Enterprise Mark/Gold Mark are required to prove their commitment to investing a principal proportion of annual profits into defined social purposes, and are required to submit Social Impact Statements, illustrating how they have created benefits for society and/or the environment.



Resources and advice for public sector commissioners

As a public sector commissioner, looking for positive outcomes with a lasting impact , you will need to know that your providers deliver more than just lip service to producing an outcomes based approach.

How do you know your service provider will actually deliver the added social outcomes and outputs they tell you they will?


Budgets are tighter than they ever have been.  However, by choosing an accredited social enterprise you can look beyond the motivations of immediate short term cuts. A social enterprise choice is a business choice that will lead to:

a) a financially sustainable service that will put the patient and service users first (not profit)

b) add other benefits that enhance the basic commissioned service eg developing joint health and social care outcomes and reinvesting profits to subsidise other public health innovations

Ask for the Social Enterprise Gold Mark in your commissioning criteria to ensure that a service provider is not only focused on outcomes, but that they have the ability, track record, capacity, and future plans to consistently deliver social value. This is all in addition to demonstrating excellence in key business areas, such as employee engagement, governance, and financial transparency.

Ask for the Social Enterprise Mark for an externally assessed guarantee that a service provider is committed to maximising income and allocating profits towards achieving wider social outcomes.


ASK for the Social Enterprise Mark and Social Enterprise Gold Mark in your commissioning criteria as an easy way of embedding social value within contract specifications and demonstrating your consideration of the Social Value Act

Social Enterprise Gold Mark