It’s a question of values, but will MP’s law work?

CHARITIES and social enterprises should benefit from a Leamington and Warwick MP’s law designed to help them win more public sector contracts.

Chris White MP’s Public Services (Social Value) Bill received its final reading in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Expected to become law by the end of the year, it means councils, government departments, NHS bodies and housing associations in England and Wales will have to take into account ‘social value’ when awarding contracts.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This could mean giving preference to charities or voluntary groups that employ local people and do not pass profits to shareholders but invest surpluses in community projects.

Citing youth centre closures which could result in rising crime, Mr White said: “We’re asking commissioners to work in a different way. They will have to think that if they cut an operation what the long term cost will be.”

Only a few Private Members’ Bills - those introduced by MPs and Lords who aren’t ministers - become law. Mr White’s had backing from Labour MP Hazel Blears and Liberal Democrat peer Lord Newby.

But while Mr White said he hoped his bill would not simply “gather dust”, there is no means of actually enforcing it. Mr White said it should instead take effect when bodies were at the procurement and consultation stage.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added: “It’s going to be very much up to the sector and the communities to police the bill. We haven’t put penalties in. This is supposed to be a very positive approach to commissioning.”

Social Enterprise UK is the national membership body for social enterprises. Its chief executive Peter Holbrook hopes it will stop public money ending up in shareholders’ pockets. He said: “More public sector contracts delivered by social enterprises means good news for society and good news for the taxpayer. Social enterprises exist to remedy social and environmental problems and plough their profits back into a community so the taxpayer’s pound goes further.”

Related topics: