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'NO PRIVATE SECTOR GRIPES' ABOUT SOCIAL DUTIES IN PUBLIC CONTRACTS

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Wales is leading the way in developing procurement practices which benefit communities, according to research commi...
Wales is leading the way in developing procurement practices which benefit communities, according to research commissioned by Value Wales and published this week.

Community benefit or social clauses in public sector contracts are designed to ensure due attention is paid to wider social and economic policies.

Value Wales commissioned the Community Benefits Pathfinder Project (CBPP) to look at addressing long-term unemployment and training issues by using social clauses in public sector procurement arrangements. Three pilot projects in the construction sector, where a future skills shortage has been identified, have required contractors to train and employ a number of long-term unemployed as part of the contracts.

Research indicates that there was little or no resistance on the part of contractors to including social clauses into contracts and no significant additional cost was incurred for contractors or the public sector. Recruitment from the projects is encouraging with at least 35 people who had not worked for some time gaining access to good quality job opportunities.

Finance, local government and public services minister Sue Essex said: 'I am delighted that Wales is leading the way in using social clauses in public sector contracts. These clauses should create up to 2,000 additional jobs each year for long term economically inactive people in Wales. I am therefore very keen to ensure that such clauses are included in all suitable public sector contracts in future and will look to Value Wales and the Welsh public sector to ensure that this happens.'

The pilot projects were the groundworks on the site of the former Hotpoint factory at Llandudno Junction, the causeway link bridge at Holyhead Harbour and the Porth and Lower Rhondda Fach relief road.

Vince Hanley, head of operational procurement at Rhondda Cynon Taf County BC, was involved in the relief road pilot. He said: 'The pilot has shown us that the barriers to using local labour can be overcome by good procurement practice and working closely with partner organisations and others in the supply chain.'

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