Phase 3 - Contract

3.1 Explore contracting with commisioners

Even after promising early discussions (see Section 1.6), don’t assume that commissioners will be familiar with the processes involved in commissioning a SIB. You may well need to help them through the steps.


Masterclass: How to help a commissioner through the SIB commissioning process

Contributed by Dr Chih Hoong Sin, Director, OPM

If you are developing your own provider-led SIB, though you as a provider cannot influence the commissioner’s specific procurement route, you can use the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 to ask the commissioner to have pre-procurement conversations.

If the commissioner is developing the SIB, keep in mind that while less complicated than provider-led SIBs, commissioner-led SIBs are not as straightforward as they look. There are some steps you can take to help avoid common pitfalls:

  • Ask the commissioner about contract management:

    • Which contracts does the commissioner already hold for this kind of work?

    • When do they run out?

  • Make sure the commissioner is aware that they do not always have to go to open market:

    • Check how familiar the commissioner is with using the Public Services (Social Value) Act, and do some pre-procurement

    • Check whether the commissioner has considered an Innovation Partnership (enabling commissioners to develop a new service concept in partnership with a small number of providers)

    • Check whether the commissioner is aware of the option of using a Voluntary Ex Ante Transparency notice to award the contract to one provider (see below).

    • Check whether the commissioner can operate under the Light Touch Regime (see below)


The Public Services (Social Value) Act requires commissioners of public services to think about how they can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits.

In an Innovation Partnership, the contracting authority uses a negotiated approach to invite suppliers to submit ideas to develop innovative works, supplies or services aimed at meeting a need for which there is no suitable existing ‘product’ on the market.

A Voluntary Ex Ante Transparency (VEAT) notice can be issued by a commissioner if a provider has developed a unique solution and only they have the means to deliver it according to the commissioner’s requirements. The notice notifies the market of the commissioner’s intent to award a contract to a provider without competition and provides for a 10 – 15 day period to allow challenge to that decision.

In the Light Touch Regime (LTR), a commissioner can design their own process if it meets the rules around openness to avoid flouting competition rules. The LTR requires procurers to:

  • Post a notice to make known their intention to award a contract, inviting expressions of interest

  • Hold some sort of competitive award process, ensuring equal treatment and transparency.  Reasonable and proportionate time limits should be allowed

  • Publish a contract award notice (these can be grouped for publication quarterly)

Such an OJEU call for competition can be dispensed with where:

  • The contract is sub-threshold for the LTR (Schedule 3)

  • The “negotiated procedure without notice” can be used – i.e., where a procurer can legitimately approach one provider direct

  • For contracts that can be regarded as an in-house arrangement or a public-to-public co-operation

Content provided by Roger Bullen and GO Lab

Further resources


Next: 3.2 Write contractual outcomes definitions