Social Value Policy

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 17th May 2021.

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Photo of Nicola Brogan Nicola Brogan Sinn Féin 3:00 pm, 17th May 2021

4. Ms Brogan asked the Minister of Finance to outline the role of his Department's Innovation Lab in the development of a new social value policy. (AQO 2050/17-22)

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

The Department of Finance Innovation Lab delivered a one-day insight lab on Wednesday 5 May 2021 that was designed to encourage consensus on a road map that will deliver the Department's aim of increasing social value in public procurement.

The event engaged with participants and sought thoughts on time frames, targets and scoring with a view to informing a road map to an effective and workable policy that can be implemented quickly. Participants considered case study contributions that were provided by invited keynote speakers from across these islands. The Innovation Lab report will inform a paper that will be presented at the next Procurement Board meeting, which is on 9 June.

Photo of Nicola Brogan Nicola Brogan Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for his answer. I commend him for his ability to find new and innovative ways of working, in this case to generate employment and opportunities that would otherwise not have been there. When does the Minister expect the new social value policy to come into force?

Photo of Conor Murphy Conor Murphy Sinn Féin

I already had a discussion with officials who were involved in and managed that from the procurement side. As I said, the intention of the Innovation Lab is to collate and compile the outcome of the event to inform a paper, which we are already developing, to bring to the Procurement Board on 9 June. In anticipation that that gets through the Procurement Board, my intention is to then bring it to the Executive at the earliest opportunity.

We have changed the way that we do procurement policy in order to bring matters like this to the Executive for their endorsement. That gives us a much stronger place in each Department rather than procurement simply being a policy issue for the Department of Finance. I look forward to that meeting with the Procurement Board to get this important area of work advanced and to then getting Executive endorsement to make sure that there is a consistent approach across all Departments and arm's-length bodies (ALBs).