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Volume 563: debated on Tuesday 14 May 2013

Q5. What steps he is taking to implement the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 in his Department in relation to its procurement procedures; and what guidance his Department has given to its agencies on this matter. (153852)

Those buying services on behalf of taxpayers should be continuously looking for ways to maximise value for communities. As part of the sustainable procurement agenda, the Department and its agency already consider social factors when evaluating relevant tenders. The Cabinet Office guidance on the Public Services (Social Value) Act has been shared with all procurement staff in the Department and its agencies.

I thank the Minister for that reply, but as economic growth and job creation are proving somewhat elusive for the Government, will he now take practical steps to include in major infrastructure contracts—such as High Speed 2, defence procurement and house building programmes—social value clauses that promote local labour, apprenticeships, local supply chains and small and medium-sized enterprises? That is a practical measure that he could put into action now.

First, I hope the right hon. Lady will join me in commending the work done by my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Chris White) to ensure that the 2012 Act reached the statute book. I also commend her for her work to promote and help its passage. However, I do not recognise her comment that jobs and growth have been elusive. We have seen 1.25 million jobs created in the past three years: one of the fastest rates of private job creation ever. Returning to her main point, it is important that social impact is taken into account in public procurement. The Treasury takes that very seriously, and we expect other Departments to do so too.

Will my hon. Friend join me in congratulating Hereford Futures on its new construction project in Hereford, which precisely targets drawing in local labour and local firms for the reasons of social value that the right hon. Member for Salford and Eccles (Hazel Blears) mentioned?

Yes, I join my hon. Friend in commending Hereford Futures. It is just the kind of procurement we want in promoting social impact.