Introduction: care leavers and the “whole council approach”
Long-standing members of Constructing Excellence and City-law firm, Trowers & Hamlins LLP have been working with the Care Leaver Covenant (the Covenant) to put care leavers at the forefront of procurement practices by several trail blazing local authorities following the launch of a new Social Value Toolkit calling for a “whole council approach”.
The Social Value Toolkit is designed to assist councils in the creation of social value objectives, secured through procurement processes to support care leavers. The Care Leaver Covenant, funded by the Department of Education, tackles the disadvantages that young people aged 16-25 face when leaving care and helps them to live independently. Working with a range of organisations in the private, public and voluntary sectors, who sign up to the Covenant, tangible opportunities for care leavers are created, including employment, education and training, safety and security, health, financial independence and independent living.
While many local authorities already incorporate social value requirements into procurement, very few specifically link social value to supporting care leavers.
“For young people who have grown up in the care system, leaving care and striking out on their own can be a massively challenging time,” said Matthew Gordon, Chief Executive of Spectra, delivery partner of the Care Leaver Covenant. “As corporate parents to care leavers, local authorities have a responsibility to make sure that these young people are as ready for the next stage of their lives as they possibly can be and continue to get support along the way.”
What is the toolkit designed to do?
The toolkit will help local authorities take a whole council approach, so it is not just the responsibility of children’s services to address the needs to care leavers, but includes their executive officers, social services, community investment, health, housing, corporate services and procurement teams in the creation of social value objectives and to use procurement to increase opportunities available for care leavers.
The toolkit also provides guidance on the wording councils can use to encourage bidders for local authority contracts to incorporate social value initiatives into their bids.
In terms of measuring the impact created by the initiatives, the toolkit compliments the approach used by the Social Value Portal in its TOMS framework as well as the Local Government Association’s National Procurement Strategy and its guidance on the opportunities to secure significant outcomes for care leavers through procurement.
Who is using this toolkit?
Leeds City Council, Stafford Borough Council, Wolverhampton Council, Doncaster Council, Lewisham Council and Somerset County Council are the first local authorities to champion the Covenant and adopt the toolkit with a further 10 coming on board, including Telford & Wrekin Borough Council.
Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, who are amongst the first local authorities to adopt the toolkit, said: “Just having access to the same kind of opportunity and support that their peers have could make a huge difference to many young people leaving care. It can have a really positive impact on preparing them to live independently, achieve financial stability, give them practical and emotional support, help them to establish stability in their lives and be able to achieve their ambitions. “I’m proud to be the first local authority champion of the Care Leaver Covenant and, I’d encourage other local authorities to sign up to the Covenant and adopt the toolkit to help care leavers navigate a path into further and higher education, employment and training and ultimately be able to live independently.”
Shirley Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning at Telford & Wrekin Borough Council said: “I’m always looking at innovative ways of expanding our offer for care leavers. As corporate parents we know that support does not, nor should it, end when our children leave care. The procurement toolkit is our opportunity to empower care leavers and ensure all functions of the Council have their development, nurture, and independence in mind. Importantly, when OFSTED rated our Council ‘Outstanding’ this year, they noted the importance of ensuring parity across all Council services to enable care leavers to have access to equal opportunities and personal support. “Our ambitious programme to protect, care and invest in our Borough will crucially unlock opportunities within our procurement process giving care leavers new skills, work opportunities and importantly financial independence.”
Conclusion: procurement is not a barrier!
Trowers & Hamlins, who co-authored the Social Value Toolkit, believe local authorities are perfectly placed to achieve a wide range of Covenant-focussed outcomes and can use their procurement capacity to lever significant social value impact for all their care leavers.
Rebecca Rees, Procurement Partner at Trowers & Hamlins said: “We have worked closely with the Covenant to highlight in the Guidance that public procurement procedures do not have to be a barrier to achieving effective and impactful social value outcomes for care leavers. There are lots of case-studies and tips to help local authorities navigate their regulatory environment to the benefit of their care leavers.”
For more information about the Care Leaver Covenant and a copy of the Toolkit visit www.mycovenant.org.uk.