07 December 2007 | Antony Barton
Four councils are to lead a pilot scheme that requires bidders for recycling and waste contracts to provide details of social benefits, such as the need to train the long-term unemployed.
The Cabinet Office announced this week that Medway, Braintree, Leeds and Bury local authorities will lead the initiative in the new year. The Social Clauses Project Board, which includes representatives from the OGC, the Office of the Third Sector and the Treasury, will provide legal advice and help in the wording of contract clauses.
This follows a recent survey by the North East Centre of Excellence of public and third sector organisations into the value of social clauses in procurement contracts.
Just over half of the 15 local authorities that responded said they were using, or had used, social clauses.
Buyers and providers of services both said the top three obstacles to using social clauses were:
- Difficulty in including social clauses as contractual agreements
- Difficulty in measuring the clause at tender evaluation stage or contract delivery
- Lack of legal assurance
Buyers additionally said there was uncertainty about how social clauses fit with EU procurement law and a lack of information on how they could be used. They said they want government guidance and case studies to demonstrate how they can be applied.
The Cabinet Office said these concerns will give a "clear direction" for the new initiative.