Proposals being presented by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to ensure Combined Authority contracts benefit the wider community have been dismissed as a “massive missed opportunity” by Dudley North MP Ian Austin.
Mr Street is presenting his “Social Value Policy” proposals to the Combined Authority Board this Friday (8th September). The plans have been drawn up by him and his “Portfolio Lead for Finance and Investments”, the Conservative leader of Warwickshire Council, Councillor Izzi Secombe.
Since 2013, every local authority has a legal duty to consider the “social value” or wider social, economic or environmental benefits that can be delivered by the procurement of public services.
This could mean awarding contracts in ways that support local businesses, increase local jobs, boost skills in the community, improve the environment, housing or health, for example.
But Austin says the Mayor's proposals:
- Fail to guarantee jobs will be paid at the Living Wage
- Contain no guarantee on the number of apprentices large contracts will have to deliver
- Won’t ensure that West Midlands firms will be prioritised for contracts
- Only apply to larger contracts and even then the benefit will be determined “at the discretion of the Procurement Lead Officer“
- Won’t give small local firms or charities a better shot at getting contracts
Ian Austin said:
“These proposals are far too weak and are another missed opportunity by the Mayor to boost jobs, wages, skills and housing in the West Midlands.
“The Combined Authority has been given an £8 billion budget. Imagine what that could do to support local businesses, create local jobs, boost skills and improve wages if it was exploited properly.
“This report sticks to the existing EU procurement targets and the national rules and the precise value is being left to the discretion of the contract manager. What’s the point of having a Mayor if he’s got no new ideas or the drive and determination to shake things up?
“I think he should be guaranteeing every building contract employs apprentices and he should ensure contracts pay the Living Wage.
"And I think it is a mistake not to have clearer procedures for smaller contracts because small companies, local charities and community groups who support local employment and provide local jobs would have a better shot at getting them.
"I think we need a mayor who will stand up for local people, fight for local companies and local jobs."