Social value bill progresses to its final reading

Chris White, the Conservative MP, introduced the bill that will make it easier for charities to win public contracts

Chris White
Chris White

A bill designed to make it easier for charities and social enterprises to win public sector contracts will have its final reading in parliament today.

The Public Services (Social Value Bill), a private member’s bill introduced by Chris White, the Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, requires public bodies to give consideration to improving "economic, social or environmental wellbeing", whenever they procure a service.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, the umbrella body for social enterprise, said in a statement today that if the bill were passed it would allow more taxpayers’ money to be spent on achieving solutions to social problems, rather than creating private profit.

"It would also improve mainstream business behaviour because private firms would strive to deliver greater social value in order to compete effectively for public service contracts," he said.

Holbrook has previously described the bill as "one of the most important pieces of legislation for our sector in a generation".

The bill will affect all public bodies in England, including local authorities, government departments, NHS bodies and housing associations. It will affect all organisations in Wales except those with devolved powers, but will not apply in Scotland.

Similar legislation covering major contracts in Scotland has been pledged by the Scottish cabinet secretary for infrastructure, Alex Neil.

If the bill passes today, as expected, it will move to the "consideration of amendments" stage, where members of the two houses agree on a single text. It will then receive royal assent.

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