BLOG: Trading with social enterprises is more than socially responsible - it's good business sense. | Wates

Investment in the social enterprise sector from our Luton office reached £420k in 2018, generating a total of £743k of social value for the surrounding regions.

This is because ensuring our buildings result in a positive social and economic legacy is part of our DNA; deeply rooted in the way in which we conduct our business. Trading with local businesses that support communities is an opportunity to make a tangible difference.

This is clearly demonstrated by our construction of Chiltern Academy in Luton, where no less than six social enterprises were appointed as part of our supply chain. These include companies such as Tarem Services, which provides professional cleaning services and integrates monthly charitable contributions into every contract. Plus Community Wood Recycling, which offers a cost-effective and efficient collection service for all wood waste that ensures all waste is reused in an environmentally beneficial way while creating jobs for local people.

Working with organisations like these also saw us invest more than £100k with the sector through our role as main contractor for the new building at HMP Stocken for the Ministry of Justice.

The products and services that SEs provide places them as extremely valuable partners to us and our clients and the sector contributes over £24bn to the UK economy every year – making it good business sense as well as socially responsible for them to be part of our supply chains.

At Wates, were committed to spending over £20m with SEs by 2020 as part of our position as a founding member of SEUKs Buy Social Corporate Challenge, and we spent £5.4m last year alone, significantly exceeding the national target of £3.5m. Here in Bedfordshire, we beat our 2018 goal by 180%.

Which is why weve set ourselves a much more ambitious target for 2019 – £100k higher than the previous years. And Im wholly confident that well reach and exceed this too. We have a new and dedicated SE champion in the region every year and such are their continued efforts that were consistently having a bigger impact with our SE engagement year on year.

As a private, family-owned business, at Wates we set the bar high when it comes to sustainability. We work hard to tackle social problems by supporting young people, providing training and employment opportunities as well as trading with the social enterprise sector. This is evidenced by the investment we have made and is further underpinned by our intention to spend even more in 2019. It is wholly prudent to partner with SEs and we will continue to do so as often as we can.

Ian Vickers is Managing Director of Wates Construction Home Counties.