Monday 14 March 2016

Will 'Social Value' procurement take into account ethical standards?

Brent Council's strategy for Social Value in procurement will be discussed at Cabinet tonight. The documents do not mention ethical procurement except with reference to sourcing practices:

Ethical sourcing practices: Ensuring compliance with UK, EU and international standards, promoting fair trade and fair pricing policies, tackling corruption, child labour and similar social issues.

However this does not appear again in the council's glossy publication on Social Value LINK

During the controversy over Veolia's bid for the Public Realm contract there were promises by the council to look at developing an ethical procurement policy.  Veolia was opposed because at the time it provided infrastuctural support for  illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Campaigners through the public money should not be used to support such practices by awarding the company a multi-million contract.

Recently the government has moved to ban councils and other public bodies from making procurement decisions that take into account ethical issues.

Cllr Tom Miller was among signatories of an attempt  by councillors to challenge this (see below)  and other organisations, including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, have campaigned on the issue:

Letter from councillors regarding attacks on local democracy

Proposed regulations would give central government powers to veto investment decisions made by democratically elected local councils if it believes that local decisions conflict with the views of Westminster politicians.

Scores of councils have in recent years taken steps such as adopting fair trade principles or excluding fossil fuel, tobacco and arms companies from their investment portfolios, following campaigns by pension fund members and local citizens.

Many councils have passed motions stating they will not procure services from companies that avoid tax, aid and abet Israeli violations of international law or from construction companies that blacklist trade union members.

The Government now aims to undermine the right of councils to make democratic decisions reflecting local public opinion and the views of local authority pension fund members, who under current proposals would have less rights to influence pension fund investment decisions than those investing in personal pensions.

These proposals fatally undermine the government’s stated commitment to transfer power to local government and communities and represent a serious attack on local democracy.

We urge the government to reconsider

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