Tue, Mar 12, 2019 - Page 10 News List

UK tells firms to stop ‘evil practices’ to win contracts

Thomson Reuters Foundation, LONDON

Businesses looking to win British government contracts must do more to help society, tackling issues such as modern slavery and climate change, the UK government said yesterday.

The call came from British Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington, who was due to unveil proposals to overhaul the process for awarding contracts to run public services that would ensure that the social impact of the businesses were taken into account.

The move was designed to help the government — which spends about £49 billion ($63.63 billion) every year on contracts with external organizations — ensure its supply chain was free from bad practices.

“It is morally right that we make sure none of that money goes to any organisations who profit from the evil practices of modern slavery,” Lidington said in a statement.

“Similarly, it is right that we demand that the organisations we work with meet the high standards we need to protect our environment and employ workforces which represent our diverse society, including people with disabilities and those from ethnic minorities,” he added.

Under the plan, companies bidding for government contracts would have to prove their track record in ensuring supply chain safety, environmental sustainability, workforce diversity and training opportunities for staff.

The 2012 Social Value Act encourages government procurement officers to consider the social and environmental impact of the contracts that they award, rather than opt for the lowest bid.

However, the plan would extend the law’s requirements to ensure that all major procurements evaluate social impact where appropriate.

It comes as concerns have mounted over the use of private companies to deliver public services following last year’s collapse of one major provider, construction giant Carillion.

The proposals would boost British social enterprises, which are businesses set up to deliver social impact as well as profit, Social Enterprise UK chairman Victor Adebowale said in a statement.

“Social value should not be seen as a luxury in any part of the public or private sectors but common sense,” Adebowale said. “Social enterprises have been pioneers, but it is important that every sector follows.”

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