Community benefits in public procurement

This report presents the findings of a pilot programme which was intended to promote the use of 'community benefit'.

1 Introduction

This report presents the findings of the Scottish Procurement Directorate's and Communities Scotland's Community Benefits in Procurement ( CBIP) Pilot Programme. In these pilots public bodies sought to secure the delivery of certain 'Community Benefits', namely 'targeted recruitment and training' ( TR&T) 2 , through the use of public contracts. As will be discussed in section 2, targeted recruitment and training ( TR&T) can be seen as one element of Community Benefits, and the latter is covered by the generic term 'social issues' which is now appearing in procurement literature. 3 The Scottish Procurement Directorate has published separate guidance on the wider field of social issues in procurement. 4

This document examines the methodology that has been used by a number of locally-focused public bodies to help achieve their policy goal of maximising local employment in order to reduce social exclusion. It is legitimate for these bodies to refer to 'local jobs' in their policy statements, but this term cannot be adopted as a tender requirement since this could discriminate against residents and businesses outside the geographic remit of the authority. A degree of sophistication is therefore required to translate the policy goal of 'local jobs' to a non-discriminatory contract requirement - targeted recruitment and training. The means that these public bodies employed to do this, and the outcome of their experiences, are the subject of this report.

The origin of the CBIP Pilot Programme in Scotland can be traced to the involvement of Scottish Procurement Directorate officers in research undertaken with the Office of Government Commerce and HM Treasury in 2000/2001. This was funded by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation ( JRF) and published by The Policy Press in 2002.

The JRF report is the first detailed analysis of the legal and policy frameworks surrounding the use of public contracts to achieve Community Benefits in the UK. The identification that these wider benefits can be lawfully achieved through the means of public procurement has transferred the focus of concern from the question 'is it legal?' to two other questions:

  • How is this best done so as to comply with good procurement practice?
  • What is the impact on value for money? 5

The Scottish CBIP Pilot Programme was established to examine these two questions.

The Pilot Programme commenced with three workshops for public bodies, including the bodies that participated in the Programme, and the production of a Draft CBIP Toolkit providing advice and model clauses that could be used in the pilots. The Toolkit was approved as a working document by the Scottish Procurement Directorate. Some consultancy advice was available to the participating bodies through the programme and this was used in different ways.

As will be seen there is considerable variation in the size and purpose of the pilot bodies, and in the approaches they have implemented over the duration of the Pilot Programme. The participating bodies are all locally controlled and include the UK's largest stock-transfer housing association, one of Scotland's pilot Urban Development Companies, and three local authorities.

To identify good practice it has been important for the participating bodies to be willing to acknowledge where things could have been done better. All of the participants were on a steep learning curve and the success of the pilots was as much influenced by the resources they could make available and by the previous experience of the people involved as it was by commitment of the procurement team involved. This document could not have been produced without the hard work of all of those involved in operating the pilots and thanks should go to them for providing a foundation of experience on which they and others can build.

This report:

  • Introduces the legal and policy context within which the pilots were carried out;
  • Provides a toolkit of appropriate clauses and procurement procedures which can be used to achieve Community Benefits through procurement;
  • Demonstrates a range of approaches that have been adopted during the pilots and provides detailed information on several of these;
  • Identifies good practice and potential pitfalls that other bodies seeking to adopt this approach should consider;
  • Presents some evidence of the impact of including targeted recruitment and training ( TR&T) requirements on competition, affordability and VfM.

Anthony Collins Solicitors and Richard Macfarlane have been supporting the CBIP Pilot Programme since it commenced in 2003. Over the period of the Programme, pilot contracts have been developed in five areas - Glasgow, Inverclyde, Dundee, Stirling and Falkirk. 6



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