'Social value' rule to benefit Swindon and Wiltshire businesses

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Plans to attach a "social value" to contracts issued by Swindon Borough Council could benefit local companies, a business forum has said.

It means the council will have to regard the value to the local economy, not just the cost, when deciding which companies win contracts.

It will apply to every deal with a value greater than £173,934.

Influence, which represents the town's business community, said the move comes as a real opportunity for its members.

Chair, Nicky Alberry, said some small businesses in the town had struggled to tender and win some of the contracts.

"We realise the issue of buying locally as a real opportunity for us in Swindon and across Wiltshire as well.

"The scale of the opportunity is potentially quite huge," Ms Alberry added.

Russell Holland, who is in charge of finance at the borough council, said if you can award a contract which helps young people into employment, that will help reduce pressure in another service area.

"When someone gets a job that's good for the public finances," he added.

A meeting of the borough council's cabinet voted to revise its contracts standing orders to comply with the legislation and make the necessary changes to its constitution.

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 places an obligation on public bodies to consider how services they commission or procure, over the EU procurement threshold (£173,934), improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of the area in which they operate.

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