Carnegie UK Trust launches new Guide to Good Work Procurement

December 6, 2019

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  • The Guide to Good Work Procurement is intended to help public bodies use their procurement powers to support the provision of ‘good jobs’ in their local area.
  • Written by Dr Deborah Harrison of Northumbria University and Philip Edwards, formerly of the Institute for Local Governance at Durham University, the Guide is based on two years of regional development work in the North East of England and learning from national examples.

The Carnegie UK Trust’s Fulfilling Work programme supports the advancement of policies and practice that can ensure being in work contributes to wellbeing. Today’s record high employment rates mask a number of challenges in the labour market, including  low pay; insecurity; inequalities across the nations and regions of the UK; and poor progression opportunities.

The UK public sector spends over £200 billion each year on procurement – around 10% of our GDP. There has been growing interest from public bodies, politicians and think tanks about in how this spend might be levered to support the creation of ‘good jobs.’ There are opportunities, for example, to link the awarding of contracts to suppliers who demonstrate good work practice – like paying the real Living Wage, offering fair contracts, and providing opportunities for training.

However, despite widespread interest and support for this idea, public bodies face a range of strategic, practical and legal considerations to implement effective ‘good work procurement’ strategies. Since 2017, the Trust has been working with academic partners in the North East of England, to explore how the potential of using public sector procurement powers to encourage ‘good work’ might be realised. Our consultation with key regional actors including the North of Tyne Combined Authority, Newcastle City Council, FSB North East and TUC Northern has focused on understanding current barriers to using procurement to drive forward good work, and how these barriers can be overcome. The North East awards around £6 billion per year in procured contracts and several local and regional bodies have played a role in establishing collaborative and strategic approaches to using procurement to achieve social value.

The new ‘Guide to Supporting Better Work through Procurement’ is a bite-size guide based on this learning to help public bodies develop effective good work procurement strategies. We have learned that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to using procurement to encourage better work. The Guide sets out is the key points of consideration for public bodies interested in developing an approach to good work procurement which matches their strategic priorities and capabilities.

Read the UK-focussed Guide to Supporting Better Work through Procurement here

Read Supporting Better Work through Procurement: a Guide for the North East of England here  

The Trust will continue its work supporting the development and implementation of Good Work Procurement Strategies, in the North East region and nationally across the UK, in 2020. To find out more, visit our project page or get in touch with Gail Irvine, Senior Policy and Development Officer, on [email protected]