‘Council passed our motion last year and we need results now’

Towards effective social clauses at Belfast City Council

At a time of increasing cut backs, the requirement that local authorities spend their limited budgets to produce the maximum outcomes for those in most need has never been so important. Effective ‘social clauses’ built in to government contracts with the private sector and designed to provide real jobs and apprenticeships for the long term unemployment are an essential mechanism in delivering this objective.

It was therefore with great concern that the Right To Work: Right To Welfare (R2W) group learned that no evaluations were carried out on the four Employment Information Days held last year by Belfast City Council around the investment at Girdwood.

A Freedom Information response received on 5th February showed that Belfast City Council had not checked if the events held were useful for either training providers in the area or local unemployed people who attended the event. Without monitoring at this basic level being done as a matter of course, it is difficult to see how effective monitoring of social clause implementation will be carried out.

The way forward

R2W Group member Bertie Atkinson spelled out additional concerns and pointed the way forward. He said

 

“Belfast City Council's social clauses aren’t working yet – the people most in need are not getting the jobs and apprenticeships promised. We’ve been told that only 24 people will get jobs out of a total £150m to be spent by council. Political leaders can change that but it needs a bit of will from our politicians and they need to listen to our voices. Council passed our motion last year and we need results now.”

On Tuesday 17th February a community discussion is being held in the Golden Thread Gallery on Great Patrick Street in Belfast. The subject of the discussion is social clauses – how to make them relevant, real and effective in creating REAL JOBS NOW.

The Gallery is a stone’s throw from the wall of the local unemployment and social security office where almost two years ago unemployed people in the R2W Group had etched the following message in hydrograffiti;

 

A key focus of the 17th February meeting will be examining how Belfast City Council are implementing the REAL JOBS NOW motion passed in February 2014, through their draft Social Clauses policy which is currently out for consultation.

The R2W Group & PPR’S key concerns with the draft policy have already gathered community support as shown with the #3SimpleSteps campaign which calls for the draft policy to be revised to ensure:

1.  ....social clauses are included “at every opportunity” not just “wherever possible” or in contracts that are longer than six months and that have a labour value of over £250,000...

2.  ...social clauses are considered for inclusion in “all contracts” not just contracts of a certain type...

3. ...social clauses deliver exactly what they say on the tin - “ring-fenced fully paid jobs & apprenticeships for the long term unemployed”; not ambiguous concepts such as employment weeks...

Additionally, PPR will be calling on Belfast City Council to:

  • Build on existing best practice- which means learning from examples such as the social clauses in the DCAL Stadia projects
  • Ensure that the people who should benefit from social clauses are clearly identified - use the available data and talk to people who are affected. Conduct a full Equality Impact Assessment.
  • Use robust monitoring to make sure that once social clauses are put in contracts, change actually happens on the ground
  • Ensure that Contractors take their duty to create jobs and apprenticeships for people who are out of work seriously. Make it a breach of contract if they don’t.

 

You can view PPR’s response to Belfast City Council’s consultation on its draft Social Clauses policy by clicking here

You can view a summary of our response, which you can use to respond to the consultation by clicking here

 

The community discussion will be held in the Golden Thread Gallery, 84-94 Great Patrick Street (opposite the Corporation Street dole office) on Tuesday 17th February between 11-1pm.

The meeting is strictly for non-governmental organisations. To register please email sean@pprproject.org