Cumbria County Council has gone further than most Local Authorities in ensuring that it maximises the social, community and economic benefits of all its public sector spending as a matter of course. In 2006 the Council took part in a national pilot by the North East Centre of Excellence and the Office of the Third Sector (Cabinet Office) to look at the wider use of social issues in procurement. Under this project the Council aimed to secure social value by ensuring that social clauses were used in every appropriate contract. At the same time the Council worked to increase the third sector’s capacity to respond to public sector procurement opportunities. A Third Sector Programme Manager was appointed to lead the work. The appointment has continued after the end of the pilot and the Council continues to strive to ensure its spending delivers social benefit.
What did you do?
The Authority has a dedicated champion of social procurement whose role is to build up a core of expertise within the Council’s Procurement and Community Units and increase awareness across the Council and the wider Cumbrian procurement community on the value and use of social clauses. The long-term aim is that all those involved in service commissioning and procurement recognise the value of a social benefit approach and take responsibility for incorporating it into appropriate contracts.
The Council’s Contract procedural rules outline an expectation that social clauses will be included in the contract specification where appropriate and the tender specification will include social elements in its evaluation criteria.
The Council has a Sustainable Procurement Strategy in place that sets out the nature and grounds of its approach to procurement.
It takes an integrated approach to embedding social value. Responsibility for securing social value does not rest with the third sector Programme Manager, or the procurement officers, but involves heads of service, service managers and legal advisors. The findings of the pilot found that taking an integrated approach was crucial to seeing social benefit embedded into contracts, and a key tool for providing procurement officers with the support and encouragement they needed to pursue social benefit. CHILDREN’S CENTRES: Cumbria has embedded social clauses into its Children Centre contracts. Social benefit examples include:
- The Third Sector support other third sector/community organisations in receipt of resources (eg use of Voluntary sector buildings and services)
- Collaborative working with third sector organisations
- Volunteers involved
- Volunteers trained
- Added value – complementary services being delivered to the community in parallel to the contract Whether service providers deliver these social benefits is assessed