Waste industry ‘must create its own social value’

Unless the waste industry, third sector and local authorities collectively agree on a methodology to calculate social impacts, the opportunity to generate social value from waste will be missed.

Talking about the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, waste consultant Ray Georgeson said that the Government had shown very little interest in taking it forward.

As a result, he said it was up to the relevant stakeholder groups to work more closely together to determine what the Act needed to achieve and then deliver it.

Speaking at a Waste Watch event in London yesterday, Georgeson said: “The guidance on the Act from the Cabinet Office is thin and there’s nothing yet and there may never be anything from Defrafor local authorities on social value.

“It’s up to us. If we wait for government we will be sitting here forever, so the question is – are you up for it?”

The Act, which came into force earlier this year, applies not only to waste and resource management contracts but to public services more broadly. It requires councils to demonstrate that social value has been considered in procurement.

In October 2012, SITA published a report Creating Social Value, which was produced by Georgeson’s own consultancy, Ray Georgeson Resources. It estimated that the waste and resource management sector could generate an additional £600m in social value by 2020.

The report also recognised how the Act could help third sector organisations increase their contract value share in local authority collection contracts to deliver an additional £26m in social value each year.

“How are we going to fairly assess social value through procuring waste and resources if we haven’t collectively agreed the social impacts and how they are calculated,” Georgeson asked delegates.

He added that the waste sector would have to apply its own resources and agree on its own set of guidance on social impact calculations and methodology.

“We need to put something out there that local authorities procuring waste and resources services can use that has been agreed by everybody that has a stake in it,” he said.

“If that doesn’t happen, then I fear that very little will flow from the Social Value Act. There’s a real danger that it could go the same way as a whole series of other worthy private members-generated Acts of parliament.”

Nick Warburton

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