UK asks firms to tackle ‘evil practices’

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Britain's Minister for the Cabinet Office David Lidington appears on the Marr Show on BBC television in London, Britain, June 10, 2018. Reuters

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Businesses looking to win British government contracts must do more to help society, tackling issues such as modern slavery and climate change, the UK government said on yesterday.

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The call came from British Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington who was due to unveil proposals to overhaul the process for awarding contracts to run public services to ensure the social impact of the businesses are taken into account.

The move was designed to help the government – which spends about 49 billion pounds ($65 billion) every year on contracts with external organisations – ensure its supply chain was free from bad practices.

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“It is morally right that we make sure none of that money goes to any organisations who profit from the evil practices of modern slavery,” Mr Lidington said in a statement.

“Similarly, it is right that we demand that the organisations we work with meet the high standards we need to protect our environment and employ workforces which represent our diverse society, including people with disabilities and those from ethnic minorities.”

Under the plan, companies bidding for government contracts would have to prove their track record in ensuring supply chain safety, environmental sustainability, workforce diversity and training opportunities for staff.

The Social Value Act 2012 encourages government procurement officers to consider the social and environmental impact of contracts they award rather than opt for the lowest bid.

But the plan would extend the law’s requirements to ensure all major procurements evaluate social impact where appropriate.

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It comes as concerns have mounted over the use of private companies to deliver public services following last year’s collapse of one major provider, construction giant Carillion.

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