Lawyer accuses public sector of ignoring 'social value' of charities in contract awards

Julian Blake says authorities can use factors beyond price and quality to choose suppliers but mostly fail to do so

Julian Blake
Julian Blake

A leading charity lawyer has accused public sector commissioners of failing to recognise the social value of charities when awarding contracts.

Julian Blake, joint head of the charity and social enterprise department at law firm Bates Wells & Braithwaite, said it was "perfectly legitimate" for commissioners to choose service providers based on such grounds, as well as price and quality.

But in an article on the company’s website, he said this rarely happened because contracting bodies were too concerned about breaking laws on distorting competition and state aid.

Blake said commissioners displayed "excessive caution" when awarding contracts, and failed to take into account the social value of charities and social enterprises.

He referred to a European Commission guide from 2011, Buying Social, which promotes social enterprises in procurement, as an example of existing guidance on the issue.

 "There is much rhetoric across the reorganisation of public services about social enterprise, and more specifically mutuals, the presumption being that there is something essentially beneficial about the nature of the public or community benefit service provider," Blake told Third Sector.

"That is not, however, the way in which the services are procured."

A more open tendering process involving consideration of social value as well as price and quality would see more contracts handed to charities and social enterprises, he said.

It would also encourage private sector providers to demonstrate how they would produce public benefit.

Blake said the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which requires local authorities "to give greater consideration to economic, social or environmental wellbeing" when tendering for contracts, might prove helpful.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

Latest Jobs

Forthcoming Events

CHASE 2016

  • Tue 16 Feb 2016 - Wed 17 Feb 2016
  • Business Design Centre, London, N1 0QH

Fundraising Week 2016

  • Tue 19 Apr 2016 - Thu 21 Apr 2016
  • London, South Bank
RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners


Expert Hub

Insurance advice from Markel

Is your charity doing enough to protect itself against disasters?

Wendy Cotton of charity insurance specialist Markel explains the importance of a disaster recovery plan, to keep your organisation in operation should the worst happen.


Expert Hub

Fundraising advice from BT MyDonate

Five low cost tips for creating compelling video content that thrives

No matter what size your budget, there are some simple tips that can help keep costs down