Bill requiring social element in public contracts will get second reading

Private member's bill on public procurement from Chris White MP would require bidders for contracts to say what social outcomes they intend to include

Peter Holbrook, chief executive, Social Enterprise Coalition
Peter Holbrook, chief executive, Social Enterprise Coalition

A private member’s bill that would require all public sector contracts to carry a 'social clause' will have its second reading next week.

The Public Services (Social Enterprise And Social Value) Bill, put before Parliament by Chris White, Conservative MP for Warwick & Leamington, would require bidders for public sector contracts to say what positive social outcomes they would create.

If it becomes law, unlike the bulk of private member’s bills, it would also require central government and local authorities to publish strategies for promoting social enterprise and consult communities when forming those strategies.

At the time of the bill’s first reading in June, a spokesman for White said it was intended to ensure that public sector procurement is decided not only on price but also on social value.

It is intended to increase the chances of social enterprises and charities winning contracts, but also to force private sector contractors to increase the social value they create, he added.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of the Social Enterprise Coalition, said he was hopeful the bill would be passed because the issue had strong cross-party support.

"Communities would greatly benefit from what this legislation could bring – really good public services with added benefits and more bang for buck from public funds," he said. 

"The government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the country, spending £141bn each year. Practical spending decisions that consider not only price but positive outcomes for people and the environment would result in vast savings for local authorities."

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