This paper examines the concept of ‘social value’, emphasised in the recently implemented Social Value Act. It argues that evaluations can play an important role in advocating the status of social value. Evaluations are tailored to highlight priorities and promote interests and can offer an important way of evidencing and promoting social value in order that it becomes an active ingredient in decision-making in the commissioning of public services. This is essential, since the implementation of the Social Value Act is circumscribed by vagueness and contradictory demands. The paper elaborates on a set of questions that can help us explore evaluation frameworks with the view to highlight where and how evaluations can capture and promote social values, such as social inclusion, as a feature of how public services are delivered by third sector organisations. This, we argue, will be crucial for the Social Value Act to become a meaningful addition to the way public services are procured and commissioned, and for third sector organisations to secure continued public service contracts based on arguments and values that play on their presumed advantages over other service deliverers.
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