The Public Services Social Value Bill is expected to be passed through the House of Lords today in what will be a victory for socially responsible capitalism. The bill aims to strengthen the social enterprise business sector by making the concept of ‘social value’ more relevant and important in the placement and provision of public services.
The key areas of the bill, which will apply to all local authorities, government departments, NHS bodies and housing associations in England and Wales, will place a duty on the Secretary of State to publish a ‘national social enterprise strategy’ to encourage the business sector to engage in social enterprise.
An Example would be that contractors would need to take into account local environmental issues, create jobs for people with a criminal records, disabilities, problems with drug and alcohol misuse, and young disadvantaged people not in education, or undertaking training or employment.
If the bill is passed it will put the well-being of communities at the forefront of the commissioning of public service contracts for the first time, and it is hoped that those most in need of help will now be included in the plans for new services.
The Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 30 June 2010 by Chris White, Conservative MP for Warwick and Leamington, and received second reading on 19 November 2010. It is expected to reach the statute book today, and if so, it could have major changes on the way taxpayers money is spent in the UK.
The socially progressive bill isn’t perhaps what would be expected to be pushed through by a Conservative MP and The Guardian reports that the bill has been “smuggled past other free-market Conservatives for fear they would jump on it as precisely the kind of regulatory burden they are trying to remove from businesses in the current climate.”
Social enterprise UK said, “Buying public services from firms that seek to maximise shareholder profit leads to the upward redistribution of wealth, prevents that profit from being reinvested back in the services or in communities where it is spent, contributes to growing inequalities and fosters a short-termist view in public services.”