Major public contracts in Scotland will in future carry clauses requiring bidders to demonstrate the social value they will create, according to a pledge yesterday by the Scottish cabinet secretary for infrastructure, Alex Neil.
In a statement about the Sustainable Procurement Bill, which the Scottish National Party promised to introduce in its pre-election manifesto, Neil said it would "ensure that major public contracts deliver training and employment opportunities through the inclusion of community benefit clauses".
Because they require commissioners to focus on social value as well as price, community benefit clauses are seen as likely to help charities and social enterprises win more contracts.
The clauses have already been trialled on major contracts for the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Glasgow in 2014, and have helped social enterprises to compete for and win some of those contracts, including providing catering for the National Indoor Sports Arena.
Neil has not yet outlined how many contracts might be included in the new clauses, or exactly what they will require bidders to do.
Similar proposals for contracts in England and Wales have been put forward in the Public Services (Social Value) Bill, proposed by Chris White, the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, which has passed through the House of Commons and is currently making its way through the House of Lords.
Duncan Thorp, policy officer at Social Enterprise Scotland, said that it would like to see the Commonwealth Games contracts used as templates for other procurement.
"This is encouraging, but we don’t know much about it yet," he said. "We’ll have wait until government comes forward with some firmer plans."