§ Mr. Mullin
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to encourage use of public procurement contracts to achieve greater social inclusion; and if he will make a statement. 962W
§ Mr. Leslie
Contracts let by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are based on value for money, defined as the optimum combination of whole-life cost and quality (or fitness for purpose) to meet the user's requirement.
Local authorities are independent and autonomous and responsible within law for making their own decision on procurement matters. It is for them to decide how far their procurement contracts should be used to achieve greater social inclusion. It remains the responsibility of individual local authorities to make their own judgement about the use of social considerations in procurement, consistent with domestic law, including the duty to achieve best value, and the EC legal framework.
The European Commission has recently provided clarification on the possibilities that Community law offers public purchasers who wish to take account of relevant social considerations into public procurement procedures. This clarification takes the form of an Interpretative Communication that explains how social concerns may be taken into account at each separate stage of the contract award procedure.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working with the Local Government Association through the Local Government Procurement Forum to prepare guidance for local authorities on the EC Procurement Directives and how social considerations may be included in procurement exercises.