Wates Living Space helps Birmingham's social enterprises thrive | Wates

Wates recorded a £744,000 investment within the West Midlands social enterprise (SE) sector in the past twelve months as its repairs and maintenance contract with Birmingham City Council (BCC) continues to support the needs of people across the city.

Since April 2016, a 260-strong Wates Living Space workforce has undertaken housing maintenance and repairs across West Central and East Birmingham, covering over 31,000 properties throughout the city*.

As part of these works, Wates pledged to develop a local supply chain to help bring an economic boost to the city and the surrounding areas. This has included hosting supplier days to provide SEs and local firms with information on how to secure work through the contract.

During the past twelve months, Wates Living Space integrated five SEs into its supply chain, including Argonaut Community Enterprises, Rising Stars, the Jericho Foundation, the Initiative for Social Enterprise and Shelforce.

Established in 1839, Shelforce manufactures doors and windows and is dedicated to supporting people with disabilities looking to enter employment. Shelforce actively recruits and supports people with disabilities, both within its own factory and for other businesses in the wider community. It also offers training opportunities for local special schools and is committed to minimising its negative environmental impact, using 100% recycled PVCu where possible.

The £744,000 spend forms part of the Wates Groups nationwide pledge to invest £20 million into SEs by 2020, with each of the Groups business units committing to employing at least one SE on each of its projects.

In addition, Wates was recently lead organiser for a joint built environment sector SE networking event on 20th March at the Signing Tree Conference Centre, Ladywood Road, Birmingham.

Research commissioned by Wates last year revealed that expenditure with social enterprises generates 77% more social value or £1.77 for every £1 spent than when spending with commercial businesses, meaning during the past year Wates generated £744,000 in social value for the West Midlands economy*.

To date, Wates has spent £33.2m with local businesses as part of the BCC contract, generating £54.2m of economic benefit for the local economy**.

David Morgan, Managing Director of Wates Living Space, said:

“Wates is committed to the responsible sourcing of our supply chain and materials to ensure we are using a local workforce where possible and stimulating the local economy. It is encouraging to know that every penny spent with Shelforce and other such organisations goes straight back into supporting local people and providing vital services to sometimes marginalised groups in society.

I am extremely proud to see how Wates Living Space has managed to invest such a fantastic amount into Birminghams social enterprises as part of our contract with the City Council. As we look to further grow our financial commitment to the sector, including further work across the country with Shelforce, we hope it inspires other businesses to work with and include social enterprises within their supply chains too.”

Howard Trotter, Business Manager, Shelforce, commented:

“Our partnership with Wates is crucial in enabling us to provide sustainable employment and training opportunities for those with disabilities, we have worked closely with Wates to develop an arrangement that delivers commercially for both organisations and social outcomes for Birmingham – which has led to a model that is an exemplar for authorities across the country.”


*Details of contract: 12,664 properties in West Central Birmingham, including Perry Barr and Ladywood district, and 18,383 properties in East Birmingham, including Hodge Hill, Yardley and Hall Green districts (31,027 properties in total).
**63 pence of every £1 spent locally with an SME is reinvested into the local economy (Federation of Small Businesses)

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