Social procurement is a powerful tool for addressing targeted aspects of social disparity while also purchasing required products, services or supplies. Infrastructure development, for instance, can also deliver training within a community, employment for local people, or other social benefits as part of the conditions of that development contract. Social procurement has been adopted in Europe, Canada, America and Australia, among other countries, for over 40 years as a means to achieve community development and social equity, but application of this tool has been limited and is only recent in New Zealand.
The opportunities for leveraging social procurement for enhancing a local community when change occurs are considered as they apply to New Zealand more generally but specifically Auckland and in the suburb of Glen Innes. The process for development of a framework for social procurement at Auckland Council is outlined and the efficacy of ‘test cases’ and identified achievements are discussed.
Information has been sourced from literature, interviews with local government representatives, developers, planners and designers, procurement participants were interviewed about their experiences with social procurement, and the benefits they thought could be returned to the community. The application of social procurement to help build a resilient and sustainable community is considered in Glen Innes, a suburb under large scale change, and the focus of a National Science Challenge research initiative of Building Better Homes Towns and Cities.
The conclusion drawn is that social procurement can deliver benefit to under-resourced communities. Social procurement can be used to reduce poverty and enhance social inclusion and community economic development and sustainability, through training, employment, the use of local businesses and materials, as well as provision of needed resources. Although its adoption by Tāmaki Regeneration Company and Auckland Council is in its infancy there are already ‘wins on the board.’ The tool needs to be given much greater emphasis and commitment by local and national government and all relevant parties. Social goals need to be developed which recognise the importance of achieving social equity and resilience and can be supported through procurement, especially for larger and longer-term contracts. The outcomes need adequate weighting attributed, and to be monitored and well-managed so that there is genuine benefit; and currently deprived communities can move towards greater vitality and resilience. Private and social entrepreneurs, education providers, non-government organisations, Auckland Council, and Iwi have begun to generate social benefit through social procurement. Strong leadership from Government, particularly for larger, longer term contracts would attract greater commitment from suppliers, and greater benefit for communities.