03 May 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Islington Council is to write social value obligations into its workspace procurement contracts.
The London borough states that it will be the first council in the country to ensure "affordable workspace providers create millions of pounds' worth of social value for the borough's residents" by writing social value obligations into affordable workspace procurement contracts.
This was agreed as part of its "inclusive economy approach" and it will require providers to deliver "added value that benefits the local economy and local residents looking for space in Islington to start or develop their business".
It will also help to get local people into good jobs by working in partnership with workspace providers.
The council has drawn up a social value framework that calculates and assigns financial values to a range of commitments and activities that prospective affordable workspace providers are asked to fulfil should they win the contract.
Some of the five broad social value indicators that feature in the bid process assessment include the extent to which providers plan to support unemployed women to get back into work - through career mentoring, for example. Companies tendering are also asked to estimate how many long-term unemployed residents they will help into work, and how many disabled, young ex-offenders, and black or minority ethnic staff they expect to employ in the spaces they run.
Other commitments cover training opportunities, apprenticeships, outreach work in local schools and colleges, engaging voluntary or community sector organisations in the supply chain, and promoting sustainable procurement practices such as reducing food waste, using locally produced goods, and keeping resources in circulation longer.
The council says this "innovative approach will help support our commitment to give young people 100 hours' experience of the world of work by the age of 16 - another UK first".
By writing these requirements into the procurement assessments and assigning them financial values, the council stated that it "can exert the maximum positive influence on the providers of affordable workspaces so they become true beacons that reflect our commitment to build a fairer Islington".
The council said it was "the first time any local authority has gone to such lengths to extract the most social value possible from its affordable workspaces" and it opened the door "to smaller operators and voluntary, charity and community organisations who would otherwise not get a look-in".
In addition to this social value assessment for providers, the framework will be tailored to each of the nine affordable workspaces the council has secured.
This means that each workspace will have its own bespoke agreement that best fits its setting - increasing the odds of finding the most suitable provider based on its expertise.
One space, for example, will be targeted at garment and textile production so the council would tailor the framework to favour providers that know how to run a building for this type of industry.
In addition, the council also intends to increase the minimum affordable workspace requirement for new office developments from 5 per cent to 10 per cent.
Karen Sullivan, Islington Council's director of planning and development, said: "The new procurement framework for affordable workspace providers is ambitious - it means that just being a good landlord is simply not enough anymore.
"By managing the process much more closely, we can ensure that we get the maximum social value from all of our affordable workspaces across the borough, now and in the future. It also gives us the ability to tailor the requirements for each space to fit the type of industry it will work best for. This is a bold but worthwhile move that puts fairness for our residents first.
"We are already building our list of providers and hope to confirm our first partner in the summer."