A new bill, requiring councils and other publicly funded agencies to take into account the wider social value of contracts that they award, is set to become law tomorrow (Tuesday, 6th March).
The Public Services Social Value bill, proposed by Tory MP Christopher White, could radically alter the way in which taxpayers’ money is spent when it comes to procurement by councils and other publicly funded bodies. While councils are currently required to spend in a manner that maximises ‘value for money’, this is normally taken to mean the lowest up-front cost. The aim of the Public Services Value Bill is to extend this definition and ensure that other benefits, including environmental and social advantages, are taken into account.
The bill will apply to all local authorities, government bodies, housing associations and NHS trusts across England and Wales. Companies tendering for contracts with these bodies will now need to demonstrate consideration for local labour markets and employment opportunities for locally disadvantaged groups, such as disabled people, those with a criminal record, or a history of drug and alcohol misuse, and young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Contractors will also need to create a positive environmental impact by reducing landfill waste or carbon emissions as part of their undertaking.
The introduction of the bill is good news for companies like Recycling Lives that have long advocated an integrated approach to commercial viability and Corporate Social Responsibility. As a long-established and successful recycling and waste management company, Recycling Lives achieves recycling rates of between 99-100% across its sites and uses profits from its contracts to support vulnerable people in finding their way back to full-time employment and independent living. The company, which has previously worked for a number of publicly funded agencies, prides itself on combining commercial viability with social and environmental benefits and both supports and runs a number of schemes that aim to increase wider social value.
Perhaps the most notable of these schemes is the organisation’s residential programme. Recycling Lives’ Essex Street premises is home to a number of formerly homeless and unemployed people, who now have the opportunity to undertake training and work experience with the company and its corporate partners. Many of the individuals aided by Recycling Lives have come from troubled backgrounds and the company works hand in hand with probation trusts and local education institutions to help target the most disadvantaged groups and tackle unemployment at its roots.
Social enterprises and charitable organisations like Recycling Lives are expected to benefit from the introduction of the new Social Value bill as they already work towards creating social value and are well placed to tender for contracts immediately.
With its impressive portfolio of social engagement and environmental responsibility, underlined by its status as a Queen’s Award-winning venture, Recycling Lives welcomes the new bill as an opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Founder and Chief Executive of Recycling Lives, Steve Jackson, commented:
“The introduction of the new Public Service Social Value bill is a step in the right direction for both public agencies and socially responsible organisations across England and Wales. For too long, many companies that have really solid Corporate Social Responsibility agendas have been out of the running for many public service contracts and have been pipped to the post by larger firms that choose to offer services at the lowest immediate price while putting social and environmental issues on the back burner.
“It’s great to see that the new bill has received enough support to be made law and I look forward to seeing a new generation of businesses, which, like Recycling Lives, recognise that value goes much further than just the initial cost of a service. People now expect more for their money when it comes to Government agencies and public bodies like the NHS. By investing in the local community and helping the most disadvantaged people out there, Recycling Lives uses its commercial success to give something back.”