Supplier FAQs

  • What is Buy Social?

    Buy Social is a tool to maximise the benefits from the £2.6 billion spend on public procurement.  It specifically addresses key quality of life indicators such as: personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion, equal opportunities and sustainable development. The Social Value Unit’s role is to assist public bodies to design, implement and monitor social consideration clauses included in public contracts.  The Unit have dedicated Development Officers to assist with Construction, Services and ICT contracts.  Development Officers are able to work with public bodies to tailor social considerations in line with the Contracting Authority’s strategic priorities. Prior to 2019, one of the primary ways social benefit was achieved through public procurement was Targeted Recruitment and Training (TR&T).  TR&T clauses require contractors to provide a proportion of the total weeks of employment on the contract to New Entrant Trainees (NETs).  NETs are people who have no substantial work experience (such as school or college leavers) or people who are long-term unemployed. More recently, the Social Value Unit have developed clauses for other social considerations to maximise social value and have drafted new guidance in this area.  These initiatives can include:

    • work placements for people facing disadvantage
    • skills development for existing employees
    • opportunities for Social Enterprises/SME’s in the supply chain
    • initiatives which encourage fair work practices
    • business in education activities
    • digital inclusion projects.

  • What is the Buy Social Services Approach?

    The Buy Social Services Approach has been developed by the Strategic Investment Board and CPD. The Procurement Board discussed the Buy Social Services Model at its meetings on 13 January and 24 February 2017 and, following further discussion with a number of Departments, the model is now agreed. The model should now be considered in services contracts with an anticipated value of £500,000 per annum or more.   The Social Value Unit have developed a points based approach to delivering social value in services and ICT contracts.  Under this approach, the Contracting Authority can decide which social consideration initiatives are relevant to their contract. The Contractor will be required to deliver a minimum of 100 points per £1 million of contract value (and pro rata). The default position is that the points will be capped at an averaged contract value of £3 million per annum, although this may be increased on a contract by contract basis. The Contractor will have flexibility to choose which initiatives they deliver against, giving them the benefit of aligning the requirements of the client with their own business areas.   More information on the Buy Social Approach for Services and ICT contracts can be found in the toolkit: Download the Services and ICT toolkit  

  • What is the Buy Social Construction Approach?

    The Buy Social Construction approach was developed in partnership with Government Departments, the construction Centres of Procurement Expertise and representatives from the local construction industry. The approach was endorsed by the Procurement Board in November 2015 and came into operation in April 2016.   It sets a contractual requirement for a quantifiable number of targeted recruitment and training opportunities for New Entrant Trainees and work experience opportunities to be provided in Government construction contracts. The requirement is to be delivered by the main contractor and its supply chain.   More information on the Buy Social Approach for Construction contracts can be found in the toolkit. Download the Construction toolkit

  • What is a Broker?

    A broker is a training/employability/community organisation which works with people who are eligible for Buy Social opportunities.  These people may be looking for employment, work placement opportunities or employment support and the organisation may be open to receiving professional support from Contractors.  Brokers can set up introductions for Contractors, help with supporting their clients and are often willing to work with a contractor to help them meet their Buy Social requirements.

  • Who is a New Entrant Trainee?

    A New Entrant Trainee is one of the following:

    • a person that is leaving or has, within the last 12 months, left an educational establishment or a training provider (including paid student work placements)
    • a person aged under 25 that has been unemployed for more than 26 weeks and is seeking employment
    • a person aged 25 or over that has been unemployed for more than 52 weeks and is seeking employment
    • an existing ‘New Entrant Trainee’ that is seeking a new position to complete their ‘New Entrant’ period, or another person who is accepted as a New Entrant Trainee by the Client
    A New Entrant Trainee can be in one of the following categories
    • an apprentice who is undertaking a paid apprenticeship, registered within the ApprenticeshipsNI programme or a similar scheme agreed by the Employer, can be counted as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to 104 weeks.
    • a professional trainee (post-primary degree or equivalent) who is working towards full corporate membership of a professional institution and/or registration body and is registered with an appropriate professional body. These individuals can be counted as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to 104 weeks.
    • an undergraduate student working towards a primary degree and required by a university or college to undertake a placement in industry to gain relevant training and experience through paid employment. These individuals can be counted as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to 52 weeks.
    • an other trainee who can be counted as a ‘New Entrant’ for up to 52 weeks. This category can include but are not limited to semi-skilled, operative, administration, health and safety, IT support, business improvement and other support positions.

  • What is the Find a Broker service used for?

    The Find a Broker section of this website has been created to help contractors who have been awarded public contracts with Buy Social clauses to link with relevant organisations (‘brokers’) who can help them in the delivery of these clauses. You can search the site for brokers who:

    • work in an appropriate geographical area
    • work with people who are eligible for Buy Social opportunities, e.g. people who are unemployed or who have a disability
    • are interested in receiving professional support from Contractors
    This will generate a contact list of suitable brokers that you can download. There is template text in the Buy Social 'Guide for Contractors' which you can use to email suitable brokers. You can download the Guide from the resources section of the Buy Social website. For more information on Buy Social, please email