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Government unveils social procurement initiative

The Buy Social Corporate Challenge is to be launched at Downing Street today (18th April), which will see a number of high profile businesses, supported by Social Enterprise UK and the Cabinet Office, commit to procuring goods and services to the value of £1 billion with social enterprises by the end of 2020.

The event which marks the start of Responsible Business Week, has already signed up a number of  big firms to the initiative including Interserve, Johnson & Johnson, PwC, RBS Group, Santander, Wates and Zurich, with the hope of enlisting more businesses across a diverse range of markets.

All partners of the initiative will be supported with regards to the training of their procurement teams on how to source and buy from social enterprises, and the advantages of doing so. They will also receive advice on measuring the impact of their spend with social enterprises, and how to use the data in sustainability reporting and bid writing.

According to Social Enterprise UK, procuring from social enterprises gives private sector organisations the opportunity to be a force for good in the communities in which they operate. They can help businesses to meet their supplier diversity aims and often bring with them innovation and creativity. Also, more businesses are buying goods and services from social enterprises as a result of wanting to demonstrate their commitment to social value and to comply with the Social Value Act.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK,commented:

“Big businesses are waking up to the potential of their supply chains, rather than CSR budgets, to deliver meaningful social change. Buying from social enterprises places sustainability at the very heart of a business, creates innovation and helps support the growth of organisations that are tackling some of society’s most pressing problems. I applaud all of the partners who have already signed up to the Buy Social Corporate Challenge for their leadership in this space and encourage others to get involved.”

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, added:

“This exciting project will have a huge impact on the social enterprise sector. This isn’t about asking businesses to spend more, but to spend in a way which helps us to build a more compassionate society. It’s a win-win for businesses and social enterprises and I am delighted to launch it from Downing Street today.”

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