Procurement group Scape has launched a new supply chain platform that it claims will make it easier for UK construction firms to access social enterprises.
The Social Partnership Portal enables industry buyers to source and engage with a network of socially focused and accredited suppliers.
The digital platform has been created in partnership with 25 construction companies, including BAM, Balfour Beatty, Kier, Morgan Sindall, Sir Robert McAlpine, Wates and Willmott Dixon. Framework operators Scape and SCF, and industry stakeholders Constructionline and SMAS, are also supporting the project, with the site powered by Social Enterprise UK (SEUK).
The initiative will also provide improved access to contractors working across Scape’s suite of next-generation construction and consultancy frameworks, the Southern Construction Framework (SCF) and beyond.
Social value is a key principle of the UK government’s Construction Playbook – published last year to shape best practice in public sector construction. The Playbook includes significant emphasis on social value within procurement, including increased use of local and national social enterprises.
Suppliers registered on The Social Partnership Portal will be accredited with Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum status depending on their social enterprise credentials. This includes grant-based income and the percentage of profit reinvested in social or environmental causes.
“Our ambition is for the Portal to become the go-to platform for social procurement in the built environment sector, bringing together socially-focused suppliers and contractors to champion the benefits of conscientious construction.”
Suppliers seeking to achieve platinum status will also obtain support from Supply Change, a social enterprise dedicated to furthering the work of fellow socially purposed organisations.
Mark Robinson, group chief executive of Scape, said: “As a voice for the public sector and its construction partners, we can give social enterprises a platform to ensure projects are delivered for the benefit of local communities across the UK.
“Since the pandemic, a greater emphasis has been placed on procurement to deliver, not just in terms of cost, but also the value a building can add to the community through the course of its life – from construction through to operation. By sourcing and engaging social suppliers across the built environment, contractors are able to clearly evidence how they are reinvesting in local communities and helping to create jobs, promote skills and support the ongoing recovery.
“Our ambition is for the Portal to become the go-to platform for social procurement in the built environment sector, bringing together socially-focused suppliers and contractors to champion the benefits of conscientious construction. It represents an important asset in our suite of tools designed to ensure we maximise the social benefits that can be achieved through construction.”
Danni Aberg, BAM’s head of social impact, said: “This is a great idea to support social enterprises focused on creating social value for communities, and who provide more sustainable ways of doing things. It creates a marketplace that will help major contractors like ourselves to find suitable suppliers.
“BAM has always been focused on not just what we build but how we build – meaning that we actively seek to support the people and communities around our projects.
“The new portal reinvests into local communities, building wealth that has a positive impact on local people. BAM is committed to socially responsible purchasing, investing in ‘for purpose’ supply chains that invigorate our local towns and cities, providing rich social and environmental benefits.”