Radical approach to social enterprises delivering public sector contracts

Radical approach to social enterprises delivering public sector contracts


29.08.07



The achievements of a groundbreaking social enterprise procurement initiative will be celebrated at an event in Glasgow on the 29th August. The initiative saw the development of two Public Social Partnerships (PSP) pilot projects in North Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. PSP takes a radical approach to breaking down the barriers to social enterprises delivering public sector contracts.
 
One of the pilots was coordinated by the Community Recycling Network for Scotland (CRNS) in partnership with North Lanarkshire Council, and three local furniture reuse projects. The Council was planning to put three furniture-related services out to tender and recognised that, by working with local social enterprises, it could also create added benefits such as the creation of training places. The three furniture projects RECAP, Lanarkshire Furniture Initiative and St Patrick’s Furniture Project spent six months designing the services. They then set up a consortium called Homereach, which has been piloting the services since the end of 2006.
 
North Lanarkshire Council plans to include a community benefit clause in its tender. This will allow it to take wider benefits into account, such as the provision of training places, when it awards the tender. It is also planning to widen the range of services that are developed through the Public Social Partnership. Linsay Chalmers, the CRNS PSP Coordinator, said: “This pilot gave the local social enterprises the opportunity to show that they could deliver high-quality services and create new training places. The projects have met all of their targets and service users have been delighted with the services. We now believe that Homereach has a very good chance of winning the contract.”
 
The second pilot is focusing on services for older people  and was developed by Renfrewshire Council for Voluntary Services (RCVS) in partnership with Renfrewshire Council.  RCVS worked with a range of local voluntary and social economy organisations to design low-level care and befriending services for elderly individuals. A consortium called Reaching Older People Across Renfrewshire (ROAR) was formed, which is currently testing these services under an agreement with Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work Department.
 
Public Social Partnerships are based on an Italian system called co-planning and are being piloted in Scotland through the European EQUAL programme. PSP differs from the standard procurement process in a number of ways. Perhaps most importantly, the services are developed with the involvement of the people who  will be using them. The social enterprises receive support to develop capacity and are given the opportunity to pilot the services for up to a year before they are put out to tender.
 
The PSP dissemination event, which will be held at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, will highlight the achievements of the two PSPs. There will also be a chance to find out more about community benefit clauses. The updated version of the Scottish Executive’s ‘Guide to Tendering for Public Sector Contracts’ will also be launched at the event.


PSP Dissemination Event
Date:  August 29th 2007
Time:  1pm – 4.30 pm
Venue: Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, 100 Renfrew Street, Glasgow
More information: www.crns.org.uk


Source: CRNS