Fresh thinking Delivering values and value for money through social benefits in public procurement
Key themes • How well being is procured in the public arena • What are the real difficulties in the UK • Dispelling myths about good/bad practice • How Government economic policy struggles with this whole subject • Taking some steps towards achieving common acceptance and practice
The current position • Increasing skill among local authorities/devolved public bodies in incorporating social and economic benefits in procurement • Government departments get “environmental” but see no way through for social and economic benefits
The evidence exists • Progress in capital programmes on the ground • Positive guidance in Scotland and Wales • Social clauses are flexible, enforceable, offer comparative durability • Social benefits can be procured in accordance with good procurement practice : consistency and transparency, measurable outputs, capable of comparative evaluation, specifications that can be monitored • Social benefits require clear priority to be transparent to bidders (especially SMEs)
Fudge and hot potato • EU law supports social and environmental requirements explicitly • Equal treatment and transparency are paramount – not restricting to local bidders • Creating a level playing field for and building capacity of SMEs, social enterprises etc. • The criticality of social benefits specified as core requirements • Voluntary arrangements are more discriminatory
Green Book and other government guidance • Wider social and environment costs and benefits do need to be taken into account • Preference for mathematical formulae • Struggles with intangible but vital benefits – e.g. community capacity building • Progress could be made with interventions that are spatially targeted – because they relate to responsibility for a geographical area
In a climate of guidance that is predicated on risk management and lack of trust, it is no wonder that many struggle to grasp the purpose of social value in commissioning and procurement. Underlying this all is the apparent difficulty in the executive and administrative apparatus of Government to appreciate and value that which is good and beneficial – and having determined the end to be achieved, the skills required to make that all happen.
3 steps • Tailored guidance to spatial interventions • Devolving expenditure • Social capital fund
But above all ……. Government departments adopting proactive policies and implementing appropriate measures for their own procurements would go a long way to showing that social outcomes genuinely are a key priority of the UK Government.
To join the campaign, contact Mark Cook: Telephone: 0121 212 7472 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Gayle Monk: Telephone: 0121 212 7472 Email: email@example.com