Social Value in Manchester – Recycling Helps Offenders and Taxpayers

We wrote on the Public Spend Forum website a couple of weeks back about an interesting but occasionally naïve report from Scape, the Housing Association collaborative procurement organisation.

The report argued for greater use of “social value” in contracts, so that the winning supplier would also provide value in areas such as supporting training or employment of disadvantaged people, etc. We do support this concept and wrote here for instance about some of the initiatives Transport for London pursue in this area. But the Scape report suggested that suppliers should provide social value worth 20% of the total contract value, which is just not feasible without the cost of those contracts rising significantly.

Anyway, you can read that article here on PSF, but we also found this article from Theresa Grant , CEO of Trafford Council in the north-west of England, published on the Public Sector Executive website last week. In it, she gives a very good example of social value working in what appears to be a positive manner that has potentially good social outcomes and really doesn’t cost money either.

In 2014, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) agreed a social value policy which provides a consistent approach across each Manchester authority to deliver social value through procurement. The example is linked to a Manchester contract to buy new software and technology. The winning supplier (not named in the article) works with Antz network (a local charity), “to establish a partnership with Forest Bank Category B prison in Salford under which IT assets that cannot be reused are processed by inmates”.

Previously, this type of equipment was transported to recycling firms who  in the main just disposed of the items. But, “the breakdown and separation of boards, precious metals and plastics is now undertaken by prisoners. The result is reduced environmental impact plus a significant benefit to inmates who gain training, qualifications and work experience”.

This has saved money for the authorities, but perhaps even more importantly, the prisoners are doing something useful and have the opportunity to gain an NVQ qualification in recycling, which should help them find jobs when they are released. And research has suggested that re-offending and re-conviction rates decline when prisoners are given this sort of opportunity.

Grant goes on to say more about the approach in Manchester.

“Greater Manchester’s social value approach requires suppliers to identify opportunities to support this work by providing the means for employees to engage in voluntary work or by through direct support, such as making space available for VCSEs (Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises) to use, mentoring or giving resources to support programmes that are in place”.

A positive case study, as we say – and Grant herself will be speaking at this year’s National Social Value Conference in Birmingham on 14 November. To find out more about that event, click here.

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