Demise of Carillion and the Social Value Act

Image - white lettering on blue background with title 'Demise of Carillion and the Social Value Act

It’s a sad day when any business goes into liquidation but the news that Carillion Plc is no longer viable means that a sizeable national workforce may need to look for new jobs and sub-contractors will be left worrying about how to manage cashflow over the coming months. During what is usually the most belt-tightened of all months of the year, many families will be reacting to the news, adapting to a period of uncertainty and making plans to overcome adversity.

Whilst not wanting to diminish focus on those affected nor lose sight of the lessons to be learned from the Carillion collapse, I’m interested in another conversation originating from the social enterprise community about the award of public-sector contracts. The conversation gained enough of an audience that Government introduced the Social Value Act (2013) and now following insolvency of the multi-national facilities management Plc, the volume of the dialogue has been dialled-up. Simply put, social entrepreneurs, community activists and commentators are promoting the logic of third sector organisations – that are neither tied-up with the bureaucracy of pre-privatisation officials nor hamstrung by the profit aspirations of shareholders – being best placed to deliver some community contracts.

Part of being an entrepreneur – social or otherwise – is scanning the horizon to identify any patterns or potential disruptions to business. At a time when “bailout” is still politically sensitive and “nationalisation” feels to some voters to be a backward step, the fall-out from Carillion could result in an opportunity to build on the Social Value Act and harden the language from merely considering social enterprise suppliers to favouring those organisations that create greater business value through the triple bottom line.

So, for social entrepreneurs it’s time to think about the things that can be done to make themselves ready to bid for upcoming tenders. Simple things like making sure boilerplate documents that are requested in most competitions such as Equality and Diversity Policies and Environmental Commitments are updated and Public Liability/Insurance Certificates are at hand. Some tenders require brief biographies of key team members are included, others may want to see a Social Impact Evaluation.

If you’d like more information about making your organisation tender-ready, please contact the Enhance Social Enterprise team or register at

Blog post by Richard Snell, Heart of the South West Social Enterprise Programme Manager.

Growth Support Programme European Regional Development Fund logo

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.