Procurers Urged to Add Social Clauses

Posted: 11 November 2009, in Press Release

Local authorities and health trusts will be urged to introduce social clauses into contracts as part of a new programme, launched in Scotland next week.

Scottish social enterprise support organisation CEiS, Senscot and Social Firms Scotland have joined forces to develop Ready For Business, a programme that aims to bring together social enterprises and contract-awarding bodies.

The launch follows the success of social clauses, which adds a compulsory element to a contract ensuring a social impact, introduced to contracts from Glasgow City Council in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, which will be held in the city in 2014. Contracts for jobs including the building of a new velodrome and a hospital include community benefit clauses.

Colin Campbell, development manager at Senscot, said: ‘Social clauses are something that have to happen. All we are doing is making the information available and bridging the gap between social enterprises and procurers.’

The Ready For Business programme, a pilot funded by a public social partnership with the Scottish government, will not only promote social clauses, but create a register of social enterprises and help form consortia to bid for big contracts.

It is hoped that at least 150 social enterprises will be listed on the register by the end of the first year and that around 12 consortia will have been formed.

Gerry Higgins, CEO of CEiS has been instrumental in helping Glasgow City Council introduce social clauses. He said the programme will support social enterprises by encouraging a level playing field in procurement.

‘We’ll support social enterprises by getting them on a register and forming clusters. We recognise that a catering contract to provide food for 400 workers is too big for most individual social enterprises to deliver, but bringing together three social enterprises in the some field could lead to a successful bid,’ he said.

‘It’s about addressing scale that doesn’t currently exist in social enterprise, but also showing other procurement agencies models of community benefit clauses.’

Campbell added: ‘It also means that these smaller social enterprises don’t need to be part of mergers or buy-outs to achieve these contracts. It will help the sector grow quicker. One we have got growth, we will have demand.’

Higgins said he would make sure ‘a number’ of contract-awarding bodies were on the road to introducing social clauses by the end of the programme’s first year, although he declined to reveal its target.

Although not launched in Scotland until Wednesday 2 September, there has already been interest in the programme from the Welsh Assembly and it is hoped it will generate interest across the UK.