A change in procurement policy will see the University of Manchester embrace a new form of ethical procurement, becoming the first UK higher education institution to adopt the Social Value Portal.
The portal will allow the university to prioritise aims such as promoting local jobs, community wellbeing and environmentally sustainable practices, in line with the goals of the Social Value Act of 2012.
The decision was welcomed by Greater Manchester Combined Authority Chief Executive, Eamon Boyle: “The University of Manchester is one of the biggest spenders and employers in our city region so I’m delighted it’s becoming the first University to adopt the use of the Social Value Portal. Joining other local authorities in Greater Manchester by using this tool, they are showing their commitment to benefiting local people and businesses from their procurement plans.”
Procurement policy has become the subject of sustained political debate in recent years. The so-called “Preston model”, saw the Lancashire council, in partnership with local “anchor” institutions like the University of Central Lancashire, prioritising local businesses for contracts and services. Proponents of the model argue that the slightly higher costs are worthwhile in order to boost local economies.
The University of Manchester’s Social Responsibility Director, Dr Julian Skyrme, claimed that the institution is leading the way in socially responsible procurement. He also highlighted the creation of “more than 200 local jobs and a record £19.7 million of social value” through the Manchester Engineering Campus construction contract signed with Balfour Beatty.
The decision brings the University in line with local authorities in Manchester, who have committed to social value weighting in procurement since 2015, increasing the percentage of supply spending going to Manchester organisations from 50% to 71% over the last ten years.