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Construction firm launches service to get social enterprises into supply chain of UK sites

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One of the UK’s largest construction companies, has launched the industry’s first national brokerage service to help social enterprises trade with all of its sites in the UK, with the aim of spending £5 million with the sector by 2015.

Wates Group’s Social Enterprise National Brokerage service – run in partnership with Social Enterprise UK, the sector’s national body – will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for its teams of construction workers required to source services from social enterprises at each construction site.

Support will be offered through an online directory and telephone helpline.

Social Enterprise UK says the move is a sign that more private companies working in the public sector are embracing the Social Value Act, and trading with social enterprises for their access to local labour markets and expertise creating social value.

Findings from the recent State of Social Enterprise Survey 2013 shows almost half of social enterprises now trade with the private sector, while 52 per cent of social enterprises actively employ people who are disadvantaged in the labour market, and 57 per cent draw 100 per cent of their workforce from the local areas in which they operate.

The service is part of Wates’ ‘Reshaping Tomorrow’s Communities’ programme, which aims to support job creation in local communities; currently only one in 10 companies have employability as a key Corporate Social Responsibility priority in the UK.

To date, Wates has traded around £4 million with the social enterprises sector, contributing to the increased average annual turnover of social enterprises from £175,000 in 2009 to £240,000 in 2012*.

Andy Hobart, managing director at Wates, said:

“The construction industry offers great opportunities for major contractors and suppliers to work with social enterprises to achieve positive social and economic impact on communities.

“For Wates, it’s about the opportunity to support organisations that share our values and goals, and to work towards improving the wellbeing of people, communities, and the wider economy.

“We are totally committed to increasing social enterprise as an integral part of our procurement process.”

Nick Temple, director of Business and Enterprise at Social Enterprise UK, said:

“More and more companies are approaching us, asking how they can better work with social enterprise and really benefit local people and their communities.

“With the Social Value Act in full force, and an emphasis on creating added social value in public sector contracts, this trend is set to continue.

“Wates are setting the benchmarks, getting social enterprises in their corporate supply chains, and making an enormous difference to local job markets and the communities in which they work.

“This brokerage service will not only influence the construction sector, but the wider business community too.”

Twelve social enterprise champions from within the Wates lead procurement in their regions, and manage relationships with site teams locally, ensuring social enterprise are used to provide services.

Nick Horton, Wates project surveyor, said:

“I have championed the use of social enterprises within our supply chain.

“Our passion for engaging with social enterprises is an essential part of our commitment to leave a lasting legacy in the communities where we work.”

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