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Procurement for Community Public Good: A Guide

Author: Katharine Sutton, Director, Aspire Community Works

What you need to know:

The Procurement for Community Public Good says we need to increasingly communitise our public procurement processes so that they are more

  • closely aligned with the needs of our local communities across the extent of our country;
  • make the most of our local assets including our people – their hopes and aspirations, their skills and talents, their kindness and commitment to the communities in which they live;
  • respond to the broader economic, environmental and social challenges that we face as outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This Aspire Community Works guide, funded by Trust for London, provides a route map through the public procurement process that seeks to maximise community involvement, engagement and participation and deliver community good as a result.

The challenge facing public services is great, with not only a public health challenge but also an economic one. Public procurement should be used to deliver public value.

Giving local actors greater control over how local purchasing power is used should be an essential part of the post-pandemic economic recovery and building stronger, more resilient, more equal economies. This involves government, communities and business working differently together to shape the market to promote inclusive growth and the everyday economy.

The guide provides a route map to success.

Local organisations and individuals can use existing legal powers to reduce inequalities and help build an inclusive society through devising policies and practical action for procurement for community public good thereby adding to public value.

Developing a systematic and communitised approach involves three key elements:

  • An effective framework in which procurement can fit
  • A clear identification of public need
  • A clear focus on public value outcomes

Thinking big should be an integral part of local delivery. But so too should be thinking of the details that impacts on peoples’ lives at an individual and group level. Think smaller, thinking local is also thinking smart.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a public value charter for all organisations. They are the framework in which good procurement should sit. They are based on the principle that no-one should be left behind and all of the 17 goals are equal. They aim to stimulate action up to 2030 in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet. These are big issues to think about.

Local public services working in partnership with the private, not for profit sectors and civic society can identify specific community needs identifying people, places and problems that require local solutions and collaborative working. These needs should help to frame the services provided by public bodies and organisations such as housing associations that provide public services. Working on these requires addressing the detail that constructs individual and daily lives, and thinking that is smaller, less ambitious for scale and more ambitious to make a difference to the lives of real people.

Creating public value should involve the public services and service providers setting a direction and public purpose for public and private actors to collaborate and to innovate to solve societal problems. This provides it with a proactive market shaping role enabling it to dictate the conditions of contract, engaging local people and organisations in the design and delivery of services and in encouraging a plurality of providers within a mixed economy.

Procurement for Community Public Good - Aspire Community Works cover

29 March 2021

Procurement for Community Public Good: A Guide