Buy Social : A practical guide to socially responsible procurement

Buy Social, 2014

To download : PDF (740 KiB)

Summary :

‘Buy Social’ is simply a principle. People responsible for public purchasing should consider how they can do this in a way that delivers additional benefits for Northern Ireland’s people and communities, and especially those with the greatest needs.

This principle sits alongside the longer-established principles relating to transparency, open competition, fairness and equality, and value for money that are set out in legal and policy frameworks and good procurement practice.

The key policy driver for ‘Buy Social’ is the 2010 Sustainable Development Strategy for Northern Ireland.1 In line with UK policy this has two guiding principles. The first is the widely-understood environmental principle of ‘living within environmental limits’. The second is ‘ensuring a strong, healthy, just and equal society’ which refers to “promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity”.

Implementing both principles is an obligation across the public sector in Northern Ireland and this Toolkit aims to provide a methodology for helping deliver the ‘social sustainability’ elements. It is supported by the commitment in the Programme for Government 2011-15 to “include Social Clauses in all public procurement contracts for supplies, services and construction”.

The contribution to ‘social sustainability’ can be:

• targeted recruitment and training opportunities for young people and long-term unemployed people through public contracts;

• extending what has traditionally been provided to improve the outcomes for users and communities e.g. adding vocational training and employability options to traditional drug and alcohol treatment services.

So ‘Buy Social’ is essentially a driver of ‘fine grain’ innovation. It is about paying attention to the relatively small and easy changes that can be made that will improve outcomes for communities and therefore deliver better value. In some cases, the innovation may have cost implications, but in many cases the changes will not cost more, or any additional costs can be covered from external sources (see section 8).