Leading privately-owned construction, property services and development company, Wates Group, has this week cemented its position as one of the country’s leading supporters of the Social Enterprise (SE) sector, reaching a landmark spending target.
In the same week the company was a finalist in the national ‘Buy Social’ – Market Builder Award at the Social Enterprise Awards, recognising its efforts to create more opportunities to buy from social enterprises, Wates has announced it has surpassed its target of spending £20m through SEs in its supply chain, a goal set four years ago.
The family-owned, 122-year-old company was one of the founder members of the Buy Social Corporate Challenge – an initiative launched by SE UK and The Cabinet Office in 2016 to embed and promote social procurement (trading with Social Enterprises). The aim was to drive £1bn spend with the SE sector by 2020. Wates’ commitment not only included its own spend target of £20m by 2020, but a challenge to itself to create more opportunities to buy from social enterprises.
In response, the Group committed to every project it managed trading with at least one Social Enterprise, and that each business unit would have to achieve annual spend targets. Wates had also established an internal ‘Social Enterprise Brokerage’ service – managed by SE UK – an online directory of local social enterprise suppliers, suitable to be used by Wates and the construction industry. Suppliers include everything from catering to cleaning, waste recycling, landscaping and signage – all essential elements in supporting major construction projects.
Su Pickerill, Wates Group Community Investment Manager, said:
“We are proud to have achieved the £20m target ahead of schedule and for being recognised for our support to the Social Enterprise sector. When we first committed ourselves to the sector, we did so because we passionately believe that business can be a force for good, and nowhere is this more evident than social enterprises. For every pound we spend with a social enterprise we generate around £1.77 of social impact – through delivering additional benefits to society such as access to employment, or training, and we can be confident that we are leaving a positive legacy for the communities we work in.”
Social Enterprises – fast facts
- Social Enterprises (SEs) are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances or the environment
- They trade for profit – making their money from selling goods, skills and services in the open market – but they reinvest most of their profits back into their social or environmental purpose
- More than 100,000 Social Enterprise businesses in the UK
- Contributing £60 billion in turnover to the economy
- Employing over 2,000,000 people – many of whom are from disadvantaged groups.
- Sector represents 3% of UK GDP and 5% of employment
- Three times the size of the agriculture industry as many employed as in the creative industries.
 ‘Impact Evaluation of Wates’ Relationship with Social Enterprises’, NEF Consulting for Wates Group, 2017