Public sector should strive to be more ethical

Localis has argued that the public sector should strive to be more ethical and place-sensitive when buying goods and services worth up to £300 billion each year.

A new report, True Value: towards ethical public service commissioning, examines the current state and likely future of the public service marketplace, as well as the role of social procurement reforms to advance the ‘levelling up’ agenda.

The paper urges the public sector to make the most of the freedom from EU directives to reform public spending on goods and services so the process becomes more strategic, innovative and delivers better services and local outcomes for communities.

Among key recommendations for place-based procurement reform, Localis calls for central government to prove the impact of their procurement spend, especially in priority areas of the country, to show how they are achieving goals outlined in the Levelling Up White Paper.

In its recommendations, Localis also sets out a local English charter for ethical public procurement centred around seven key themes: good jobs; transparency; good business; understanding local impact; carbon commitments; good training; and high standards.

Jonathan Werran, Localis chief executive, said: “Procurement has been very much a criminally-neglected art, whose skills and potential impact are more vital now than ever post-Brexit. The extent to which better public service commissioning can improve public efficiency and social benefits to communities is seen as a niche issue.  But, nearly a decade after the Social Value Act, as a positive force for shaping and improving the daily life of ordinary people everywhere it can’t be bettered.

“Local government has a pretty big dog in this fight.  Some £180.6 billion was spent with third parties in the last three years and £63 billion alone was spent on third parties in 2019-2020. The trick for the next decade will be to boost the value of the local pound in making local economies stronger for people and places – whether through better local wages or enhanced skills acquisition for jobs in the age of net zero.”

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