Employers For Childcare welcomes recognition of Social Value in public sector procurement

Conor Murphy, MLA, Finance Minister today (Monday 5 July 2021) made a welcome announcement in the Northern Ireland Assembly on a new policy that will see social value embedded in public procurement contracts, from June 2022.

The new policy agreed by the Executive, mandates that from June 2022, tenders must include a minimum of 10% of total award criteria to social value. This will apply to service contracts valued above £123,000 and construction contracts valued above £4.7million – accounting for approximately 97% of total government procurement spend, which is upwards of £3 billion annually.  The minimum weighting will increase to 20% from June 2023 subject to review and approval by the Executive.

The new policy will also see the Real Living Wage (calculated by the Living Wage Foundation) being included as a condition of contract for all tenders from June 2022. The Real Living Wage currently stands at £9.50 per hour, compared to the National Living Wage which is £8.91 per hour. This is a positive step by the Executive towards ending poverty pay.

Commenting on the announcement, Employers For Childcare Chief Executive Marie Marin, who is also a Board member of Social Enterprise Northern Ireland, which has been lobbying hard for the inclusion of Social Value in public contracts said: “Today’s announcement is an important and welcome move in Northern Ireland to ensure Government Departments are using their spending power to deliver meaningful social impact. Considering social value in any procurement process – as early as possible – will be key as we look towards economic and societal recovery from Covid-19. We would encourage all Government departments, local Councils – and businesses – to act now to embed social value in their procurement processes and see a much greater return on investment that could otherwise have been achieved.

Marie continues: “Employers For Childcare is proud to be a Social Enterprise – a business that generates profits that, in turn, are used to make a positive difference in the lives of families across the UK. Since 2008 we have invested £6.8 million from our Social Enterprise activities into the work of our charity, all made possible by employers choosing to ‘buy social’ and use our Childcare Vouchers to support their employees. This is a very real example of social value in action – and we look forward to this ‘new era’ in public procurement and the economic, environmental and societal benefits it will bring”.

To read the Minister’s statement in full, visit the Department of Finance website here. To learn about how your organisation can ‘buy social’ by switching your Childcare Vouchers to the UK’s only Social Enterprise provider, visit our website here.