Rotherham expected to benefit from council’s new ‘social value’ spending policy

Plans to squeeze the best value for Rotherham out of the £300,000 a year the council spends on the services it provides have moved forwards – with contractors offering goods and services now expected to show how the support the town’s economy.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 8:09 pm
Updated Friday, 18th October 2019, 12:34 pm

The move means that ‘social value’ will become a considering when bids are considered for council contracts, alongside the outright cost and the quality of what is offered.

So it means the council may not just settle for the cheapest price when it settles on a deal, but rather the package which brings the optimum range of benefits to communities.

Big spend contracts, over £100,000 in value will come in for most scrutiny but smaller arrangements will also fall under the spotlight with an expectation that benefits will fall to Rotherham, or at least the wider Sheffield City Region where goods or services cannot be provided locally.

Council leader Chris Read was asked by councillors if there would be “wriggle room” as contracts were considered, to allow the authority to spend its cash locally.

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He said: “In scoring the tender there will be an assessment of cost, quality, but also social value.

“It is a balance across those three parts. It may be something that costs slightly higher, but with better quality and social value that will win the tender,” he said.

One element which will win favour is suppliers who pay workers the Joseph Rowntree Foundation living wage, which is higher than the Government’s measure, to help improve living conditions for as many people as possible.

Contracts which support jobs in the Rotherham economy would also be favoured, as well as buying from the local supply chain.

An external think-tank is being used to help set benchmarks for the system and to monitor issues such as whether firms which then sub-contract work use smaller suppliers meeting the same ‘social value’ criteria operate successfully.

Councillors sitting on a scrutiny board, which examines the way the authority operates, have approved the plan and asked for a follow up report in a year’s time.

The move means that ‘social value’ will become a considering when bids are considered for council contracts, alongside the outright cost and the quality of what is offered.

So it means the council may not just settle for the cheapest price when it settles on a deal, but rather the package which brings the optimum range of benefits to communities.

Big spend contracts, over £100,000 in value will come in for most scrutiny but smaller arrangements will also fall under the spotlight with an expectation that benefits will fall to Rotherham, or at least the wider Sheffield City Region where goods or services cannot be provided locally.