I refer my hon. Friend to the answer of 18 February 2008, Official Report, column 48W by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Dhanda).
All procurement is undertaken in line with the European Commission’s procurement regulations and to obtain value for money. Communities and Local Government is committed to working with and promoting the role of social enterprise and has set up a social enterprise unit to co-ordinate this activity.
Social enterprises can play an important role in supporting local authority objectives by bringing dynamism and innovation to the design and delivery of public services. They can also help local authorities achieve more with their money, engage local communities and stimulate new markets.
In December 2006, Communities and Local Government, alongside other Government Departments, launched “Partnership in Public Services”, an action plan for social enterprise and wider third sector engagement with public bodies, including local authorities.
CLG also published statutory guidance to local government and its key partners earlier this year. “Creating Strong, Safe and Prosperous Communities” states local authorities should recognise and embrace diversity in the way services are provided, with the focus on desired outcomes and not whether the service is delivered by the public, private or third sectors.
On 9 February 2009, Communities and Local Government, alongside other Government Departments, launched “Real Help for Communities: Volunteers, Charities and Social Enterprises”, an action plan to support the third sector and social enterprise during the economic downturn. This highlights measures to improve commissioning and procurement practice including the National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning, which provides training to public sector commissioners to improve their in practices when working with the third sector, including social enterprise, and a national campaign among public sector finance professionals to raise awareness of the Government’s commitment to pay invoices within 10 days.