Connect with us


Report Shows Social Value Can Be Strengthened in England



Social Enterprise UK have released a new report showing how English councils use the Public Services (Social Value) Act. “Procuring for Good” is based on findings from Freedom of Information requests sent to all local authorities in England. The report is mostly positive, highlighting that more councils than ever before are considering social value when implementing services.

“Procuring for Good” shows that 1 in 3 (33%) now routinely consider social value in their procurement and commissioning, and 1 in 4 (24%) have a social value policy. But it also highlights the barriers to greater adoption will only be overcome by legislative change to strengthen the Act.

Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK, said: “This research shows that where the will exists, councils in England are using the Act to embed social value into the way they commission services – in many cases going beyond its obligations to create positive change in their communities. This is a credit to the procurement and commissioning teams driving this agenda, they are unsung heroes.

“Sadly too many councils still see the Act as a duty rather than an opportunity. The Act has been in force for more than three years but is not empowering local authorities in the way it could be, to the detriment of our communities. Legislative change is needed – the Act lacks teeth and simply asking public sector bodies to consider the creation of social value when commissioning services is not enough.”

The report categorises local authorities into four categories – embracers, adopters, compliers and bystanders – dependent on the existence of a social value policy, the scope of contracts to which they apply social value, and how social value is implemented.

The findings reveal that 1 in 7 (14%) councils are fully embracing social value, applying it frequently to contracts including those below the threshold (of €209,000) for services – and the majority of these councils have a social value policy (58%). A further 1 in 5 (19%) councils are ‘adopters’ of the Act, applying it conservatively, but have a social value policy, framework or toolkit.

Almost half (45%) of the councils that responded ‘comply’ with the Social Value Act – they mention social value in their procurement strategy but apply it infrequently, while 1 in 5 (22%) councils are ‘bystanders’ – these operate without a social value policy and have little or no mention of social value in their procurement policy.

The findings show that a third (32%) of District Councils fall into the ‘bystander’ category, meaning they are making little or no use of the Act. Since many District Councils are small and rarely tender for services above the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) threshold of €209,000, they have not integrated social value into their commissioning and procurement procedures. This is despite guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) which encourages them to do so.

According to ‘Procuring for Good’, medium and larger local authorities, which much more frequently tender for services, are significantly more likely to have a social value policy and to use it to address local priorities.

Research for the report found that there are two ways in which councils score social value when putting contracts out to tender. Some include social value clauses and terms; others include weighting for social value. The ‘complier’ councils (45% of those surveyed) give social value a 5% or less weighting; ‘adopters’ (19% of those surveyed) between 5-10% of the overall score; while ‘embracer’ councils (14% of those surveyed) score social value as high as 30%.

Chris White MP, who tabled the Public Services (Social Value) Act, said: “Thanks to this research, we have for the first time a clear picture of how embedded social value is within local government. Despite substantial progress, there is still a way to go before all councils are making full use of the changes to commissioning that the Act makes possible.”


How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener




green shipping industry

Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.

Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner

There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.

Reduce Emissions

A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.

As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.

Better Port Management

As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.

Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.

Continue Reading


What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?




shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

Continue Reading