Councils to look to work practice of contractors

Companies’ track records on employment practice, training and management are
to become key issues when bidding for local authority contracts in the future.

As part of a shake-up under Best Value of what councils can take into
account when deciding on tenders, people management issues will be allowed to
influence the decision.

The Department for the Environment, Transport and the Regions has proposed
the removal of key "workforce matters" from the list that are defined
as "non-commercial" in the Local Government Act 1988. This
effectively gives authorities the green light to consider employment issues in
the tendering process. The change was signalled in a consultation paper last
month.

Councils are expected to target issues such as previous employment tribunal
cases, health and safety record and convictions and training history.

The guidance also indicates that authorities should consider equal
opportunities and history of dealing with Tupe transfers – a highly contentious
issue in local government.

Local government minister Beverley Hughes introduced the paper saying
existing legislation has prevented genuine enquiries about a potential
contractor’s workforce and management practices even when such matters are
relevant to a contract’s quality and value for money.

Socpo Best Value adviser Tim Rothwell said the inclusion of people
management issues in the tendering process for the first time will prevent
contractors from being able to undercut in-house council teams in terms of pay
and conditions.

He added that Socpo has welcomed the paper and has also offered to work with
the DETR on how to develop and monitor a model questionnaire for Best Value
assessments.

www.local-regions.detr.gov.uk/consult/bv/proc/index.htm

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