This Jam and Justice project investigates co-production to enhance the social value of procurement decisions. Billions of pounds are spent every year by public bodies across Greater Manchester (GM) – including ten local authorities, the combined authority, clinical commissioning groups and so on – to procure goods and services. Examples range from pens and pencils, to complex computer systems, to bought-in services such as management consultancy. This is public money and where public bodies decide to spend it can have different impacts. For example, do they buy their computer systems from an organisation that pays the living wage or employs people on zero hours contracts?
There is ongoing recognition that Greater Manchester needs to make its economy more ‘inclusive’, build citizen involvement and advance citizen action as a basis to public sector reform. Furthermore, public bodies in Greater Manchester are increasingly thinking about how to ensure that the social, economic and environmental outcomes that they want to deliver and have developed frameworks that consider the different ethical issues that they believe matter when they decide where they spend their money. These are typically called “Social Value Procurement Frameworks” and they help public bodies to act in a more socially responsible and ethical way in deciding how they spend their money and to influence the organisations that they work with to do the same. That much of this thinking is already happening is a massive opportunity. The new GM metro mayor and more long-standing city-regional devolution also offers a timely context for people in Greater Manchester to make sure that their tax contributions and wider public spending have the best possible impact.
Existing Social Value Procurement Frameworks do not necessarily take into account or prioritise the issues that really matter to GM citizens. Working with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), Jam and Justice's ‘People’s Procurement’ project aims to advance this agenda by developing a ‘proof of concept’ for giving GM residents more of say in how procurement decisions are made and how their money is spent. This ‘proof of concept’ research can be taken up and used by various groups, including citizens and local authorities, elsewhere in the city-region.