At a meeting of its Cabinet Committee on the 22nd April 2013, Birmingham City Council made giant strides towards its implementation of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 when it approved three inter-linked policies aimed at maximising the social and local economic value it derives from its £1bn a year procurement spend.
Cabinet approved a Living Wage Policy, its new Birmingham Charter for Business Social Responsibility, and a Social Value Policy — this last largely unchanged from the document we helped draft for the local authority a couple of months ago.
We consider the Social Value Policy important not just because we had a hand in formulating the document but because it commits the council to implementing the new legislation more widely than the minimum requirements of the Act.
For instance, the Act only requires public bodies to apply the legislation to its procurement of services, but Birmingham City Council’s social value policy commits the council to applying the legislation across all of its procurement — both services and goods.
And rather than applying only to contracts above the EU threshold (currently £113,057 for central government and £173,934 for other public bodies), the council will apply the new social value legislation to all contract values.
This alone could mean that opportunities for those most able to deliver on social value are dramatically increased. We are
As part of our Barrow Cadbury-funded project we will very shortly complete a detailed social value briefing paper for social enterprises and third sector organisations.
The insights we are gaining from working closely with BCC on its implementation of the new social value legislation are proving invaluable and consequently this briefing will move the debate forward significantly — from theorising about social value, to real, concrete pointers about how it will be put into practice by England’s largest local authority. Watch this space.
→ Archived webcast of the Cabinet Committee discussion of these policies here (the discussion kicks in at about 49 mins 50).
→ Access all the relevant Cabinet papers on the Democracy in Birmingham pages of the BCC website. Go here and then run a search using the term ‘social value policy’.