Ministers have been urged to set up a taskforce to help councils, hospitals and service providers to understand and measure social value when awarding contracts, including those for waste and recycling schemes.
Labour MP Hazel Blears made the appeal while heading a Social Value roundtable (above) in Westminster in conjunction with Veolia Environnement. The calls were backed up by business leaders, social enterprises and the public sector.
Under the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, authorities must consider how procurements can improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of local residents as opposed to awarding contracts to organisations asking for the least money.
Last year MRW reported textiles industry concerns that the Social Value Act was not being considered by local authorities when awarding contracts for clothing banks and textile collections.
The aim is to help the public sector save money in the long run, for example through programmes to reduce residents’ dependence on the NHS or to cut re-offending.
Delegates agreed there was a lack of guidance and called for a consistent framework for measuring social value to be developed.
Blears said: “If we can encourage commissioners to think beyond their immediate bottom-line this will stimulate innovation among would-be service providers.
“At a time of real pressure on budgets, councils and other public sector organisations need to be confident that this will save money in the long-run.”
Case study: Veolia and Southwark
Veolia have provided waste and recycling services for Southwark Council since 2008.
The company claims to support education in Southwark via an onsite educational facility and to promote library visits by providing a bag collection point at each library
Kevin Hurst, marketing and communication director for Veolia Environnement, said: “To truly understand the support a big business can offer to a local authority we’ve worked closely with our partner Southwark Council to assess the full impact we have from our services.
“We can help support all the local authorities’ goals from lowering crime rates to supporting local social enterprise.”