BLOG: Trading with organisations that support local communities can make a difference | Wates

Wates Construction recently confirmed £313,010 of spend with social enterprises in the year to date from its Bedfordshire base in Luton. As MD of the Home Counties region, Ian Vickers discusses the role social enterprises play in building successful, sustainable communities when part of a local supply chain.

Last year, Wates published a report* which found that every £1 spent with SEs generates £1.77 of social value. This means that investment in the sector from our Luton office has already created more than £554k of social value in 2018.

As a main contractor, we manage our clients project budgets and this provides us with an important responsibility to invest money ethically and prudently. Trading with local businesses and organisations that support local communities is a powerful opportunity to make a difference.

The Social Value Act of 2012 is based on this very notion and it is now being adopted across all industries, not just the public sector. 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 in Bedfordshire, weve eclipsed our 2018 goal by 109%. Activities have included committing 0.45% of supply chain spend to SEs as part of our construction of the new building at HMP Wayland and 0.22% as a part of the new squadron headquarters at RAF Marham.

The means that purpose-led businesses including Commercial Office Supplies and Recycling Lives are now part of Wates supply chain. Commercial Office Supplies donates 20% of profits generated to the social enterprise it established, Commercial Foundation, which in turn creates opportunities for disadvantaged young people. Meanwhile, Recycling Lives uses its recycling and waste management operations to directly support and sustain a number of charity programmes. These include offering food redistribution to charities and providing rehabilitation and services to tackle homelessness. In 2017, Wates spent £654,000 with the SE which helped it to deliver 16,400 meals to those in need.

Our partnerships with social enterprises ensure the projects we deliver result in a positive impact upon society but lets not also forget, the sector contributes over £24bn to the UK economy every year. So its good business sense for them to form part of our supply chains and this is why Wates offices up and down the country have collectively traded over £3m with the sector so far this year. The goods and services they provide places them as extremely valuable partners to us and our clients.

Were therefore extremely proud to champion the SE sector and the social value they generate for our communities and I wholeheartedly encourage more businesses to do so. The more companies that join us supporting the social mobility agenda, the bigger the impact we can have in helping change lives for the better.

Ian Vickers is Managing Director of Wates Construction Home Counties.

*Impact Evaluation of Wates Relationship with Social Enterprises – Wates Group, May 2017.

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