Sustainable Procurement Tools

Description of risk or opportunity 

Are there potential positive or negative impacts on communities as a result of providing the service procured that will require community consultation, and/or are there potential opportunities to enhance communities through encouragement of community initiatives and regeneration of disadvantaged communities?

For example, consultation is required regarding the potential impacts on the affected community of the intended procurement, as set out in the Community Empowerment and Renewal Act.

Role of procurement

Within procurement, consideration of community engagement and planning will influence the procurement commodity strategy adopted and the design and delivery of public services, which may be contracted.

The buyer must carefully consider potential positive and negative impacts that may arise as a consequence of procurement decisions and will need to be satisfied that the chosen supplier can perform the contract in a manner that provides the best possible outcomes while providing value for money. Possibly the key action to take, to both mitigate risks and maximise opportunities, is in how the requirement is framed and an assessment of the possible solutions.

Consultation at the design stage of the service needed, as required by the 2014 Act, will significantly influence potential outcomes. 

The public sector rarely designs services that have potentially negative impacts on communities but in times of budget restriction organisations are increasingly having to scale back some of their non-statutory activity. These changes should often be subject to consultation but this is not usually part of a procurement exercise.

However there are some services that must be designed by local communities to be effective and to accurately meet needs. These might include provision of local healthcare, local facilities or education. Indeed as organisations are increasingly thinking about sharing services and co-locating there will be ever more changes.

Some of these changes may provide an opportunity to enhance disadvantaged communities and engender greater community participation through changes in management, for example community libraries, support to launch meals services for the elderly, or community transport initiatives. 

In relevant contracts community requirements should be reflected throughout the procurement process including: 

  1.     in the contract notice
  2.     in technical specifications, (which can include the method of producing or providing the goods, works or services you need)
  3.     as part of supplier selection
  4.     in award criteria that can include social and environmental characteristics
  5.     in the contract award notice

Contract suitability and market capacity to meet a specific requirement need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Preliminary market consultation is crucial to be able to determine whether the market is capable of delivering a specific community benefit or whether requiring such would place too large a burden on suppliers.