Mayor to insist on ‘social value’ from contractors

Every year Liverpool City Council spends £600m on goods and services and now Mayor Joanne Anderson says suppliers will have to offer ‘social value’. Tony McDonough reports

Joanne Anderson
Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson. Picture by Liverpool City Council

 

Liverpool Mayor Joanne is to tell council contractors and suppliers they will have to offer social value as part if their agreements with the authority.

Every year, Liverpool City Council spends £600m on goods and services with multiple private companies. Under new proposals each one will also have to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits for the city’s half a million residents.

It forms part of Mayor Anderson’s triple lock – putting “people, planet and equality” at the heart of every decision. It could mean support or training for the long-term unemployed, businesses giving careers advice in schools, sharing building space with community groups, donating time or money to local community schemes or improving green spaces.

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“We need to strengthen our approach to social value,” said the Mayor. “There are already some fantastic examples but we know it is not embedded consistently across all departments.

“Too often there is a focus on the cost of a contract rather than the wider benefits it brings for residents, such as helping create a safe and clean community and giving residents access to a good quality job.”

A report outlining the changes will be considered by the Cabinet today (Friday, February 18). The authority is “starting conversations” with potential suppliers and sectors to explain how it will work and the type of measures it will look for, and will invite feedback to inform improvements.

The new approach to social value in procurement will be phased in gradually across the council, so that processes and guidance can be refined before wider roll out. It is a key strand of the council’s Strategic Improvement Plan, following recommendations made in the Best Value Inspection.

Examples of current success that the council wants to replicate include hiring the long-term unemployed as apprentices, and engagement activity with schools and residents for the remediation of Festival Gardens.

There will be a new requirement for larger contracts to give a social value weighting when they are assessed, and encouraging smaller, more diverse suppliers to work with the council.

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The policy sets out how social value will not be limited to procurement, but will also influence broader activities – such as the design and delivery of services, use of the council’s buildings and land, and how grant funding is targeted and awarded.

Mayor Anderson added: “This is about making every pound we spend go further and recycling the gains through communities across Liverpool, and working with our contractors to help them deliver on their corporate responsibility, building wealth and assets within our communities.

“It is a key part of our commitment to help build on the existing social capital, assets and resources within neighbourhoods, creating opportunities for disadvantaged communities and promotion of health and wellbeing.

“This is an ambitious policy and will take time to fully integrate across the organisation, but the benefits for the city will be transformative.”

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