New plan to harness £16 billion public spending for local benefit

A new plan that could help local people benefit from £16 billion of government spending in the West Midlands was launched by Regional Minister, Ian Austin, this week.

And he said government spending would be used to boost employment for people in the West Midlands and help access “local jobs for local people.”

The new West Midlands Procurement Framework for jobs and skills has been developed by the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel. This brings leaders from across the public, private and third sectors together to find ways to tackle the £3bn output gap ascribed to worklessness in the West Midlands.

Set up in 2008 to address the region’s worklessness challenge, the Economic Inclusion Panel  has focussed on developing a strategic approach to public procurement as a key driver in tackling worklessness. The Observatory’s economic inclusion team works closely with the Panel to provide evidence of the challenges facing the region.

The new framework can help:

  • Overcome the myth that ‘legal’ barriers prevent the public sector from increasing local access to jobs and skills, as a core part of procurement exercises
  • Make jobs and skills a priority every time a decision is made to contract for new goods, services or construction projects
  • Make it easier for all companies bidding for contracts to employ local people and invest in skills
  • Provide everyone involved in public procurement with thorough, practical advice and guidance about how we can boost local jobs and skills through the procurement process.

Ian Austin said:

“We reckon government departments and the public sector spend at least £16 billion a year in the West Midlands and I want to make sure that local people and local companies benefit far more from this investment, not only from the major capital and infrastructure projects that will can improve the economy and quality of life for all our citizens but also from the full range of public sector procurement.”

Trudi Elliott, Chair of the Economic Inclusion Panel and Regional Director of Government Office for the West Midlands,  said:

“The framework launch is to start to secure widespread commitment from public and third sector partners to deploy the Framework.  Harnessing this immense ‘buying power’ can increase access to jobs and training opportunities which, in turn, will tackle the unacceptable levels of worklessness experienced by so many across the region.”

The framework sets out four approaches organisations can take:

  • Signing up to a charter
  • Making a voluntary agreement
  • Using specific contractual clauses
  • Most importantly, adopting a strategic approach whereby jobs and skills requirement are routinely considered in every contracting exercise

This week, Network Rail and Birmingham City Council signed up to a Charter committing them to working within the framework to promote access to jobs and training as part of the redevelopment of New Street station.

The Network Rail deal is expected to result in at least 767 new jobs being created for local people recruited through the Council’s Employment Access Team.

Read more about the procurement framework on Advantage West Midlands’ site.

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