At the House of Commons on 22 May 3SC is launching its Position Paper #1, which is titled The Crisis in Public Sector Contracting – And How to Cure It. The event is intended to signal 3SC’s new approach to its business, the focus of which is the unification of large and small, but particularly small, social enterprises to bid for public sector contracts. The fiscal ‘blitz’ of the post-2008 era has devastated public spending; the consequences of austerity have hit many areas of social need. In the report the Chair of 3SC, John Swinney, calls for “more sensitivity in how services are procured and within that an explicit commitment to ensure that third sector and smaller organisations secure a reasonable share of the public procurement pie.”
Price has come to dominate public sector procurement, despite the 2012 Social Value Act, at the cost of securing quality of outcomes. The report argues that a fairer balance needs to be struck such that public sector money is spent wisely, while ensuring that there is also a prioritisation of social benefits.
For this, there needs to be a change of focus. Public commissioners need to shed their austerity-driven concern that price is everything, and start requiring Commissioners and contractors to set aside a percentage (by value) of contracts for smaller providers, who often are driven by their passion and their mission. The Social Value Act already requires people who commission public services to think about how they “can also secure wider social, economic and environmental benefits”. The report suggests, alongside other ideas, that a Public-Private-Third Sector Enterprise Board (PPTEB) could be established, to oversee public service bidding at national and local levels, responsible for agreeing the terms of a tender and the process by which it is decided, taking into consideration how the sectors can work together and play to their strengths.
Places are limited to attend this event; should you wish to come along you will be very welcome but please contact events@3SC.org by 18 May.