SMEs praised for social value they provide

Small businesses that work with Birmingham City Council and other organisations have been recognised for the efforts they make to operate in an ethical and socially responsible way.

A total of 37 organisations were awarded the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility during a ceremony on January 7.

Of those given the honour, 20 were SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) – and received praise from senior city councillors for the positive example they are setting for businesses large and small.

Cllr Stewart Stacey, Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Contracting and Improvement, said: “We have talked in the past about why delivering social value is so important to our local communities. Birmingham has some of the most deprived wards in England with over 250,000 people living in priority or at-risk neighbourhoods.

“The Charter has resulted in the council and businesses working together to improve the employment prospects of local people through increased availability of local jobs, apprenticeships, internships and work placements.

“However we are now getting smarter at targeting our efforts to the most disadvantaged areas where they will have the greatest benefit – asking organisations, where appropriate, to ensure that their Charter action plans focus on those bits of the city that have the highest levels of deprivation.

“I congratulate all of those receiving awards at this ceremony, as they are setting a standard for others to follow – and it is particularly encouraging that so many SMEs are proving that organisations of any size can do this. Everyone now recognises that big businesses should play their part in the wider community, but small organisations can play a part too.”

Overall, 276 organisations have received Charter accreditation since its launch in September 2013, with a further 140 action plans in progress, with scores more expected in the coming months.

As part of their ‘good employer’ commitments, they will pay the UK Living Wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) which is £8.25 per hour
During the current financial year the council has spent over £350m with Charter-accredited suppliers and this will continue to increase as more new contracts are awarded.

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “The businesses and other organisations that have received the Charter clearly appreciate the importance of working in partnership to address the city’s issues.

“They support our priorities of having sustainable neighbourhoods and economic growth and jobs and have shown a clear commitment to pull in the same direction to achieve these aims.

“SMEs are a key part of this. We’ve been known as a city of a thousand trades in the past, and I’d like for us to become a city of a thousand SME clusters. This will mean more SMEs working with the council, helping provide growth and jobs and prosperity for citizens – and the communities in which they operate.”

For a full list of Charter signatories to date, please visit:


Notes to editors

About the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility

The Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility is a set of guiding principles to which Birmingham City Council will adhere and which it will invite its contracted suppliers, the wider business community, other public sector bodies (including schools), and third sector organisations (including grant recipients), to adopt.

Charter signatories will consider and describe how they can improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of Birmingham that result from their activities. Organisations tendering for council contracts as of September 2013 will have to adopt the charter. Existing contractors are also invited to do the same. The charter, once adopted, becomes a contractual term: that is, failure to perform their action plan could see them stripped of their contract in the same way as if they failed to, say, pay the council rent for their premises.

A full charter award is where a business is ready to commit to and deliver against the full requirements of the charter. A ‘working towards’ award is presented when a non-contracting company is not able to commit to the full set of requirements, but is working towards achieving them. There is a three-year period during which a company can move from ‘working towards’ to full certification.

Where a pre-September 2013 contract involves multiple parties such as PFI arrangements (e.g. the highways maintenance contract), a separate agreement is signed to govern the charter adoption. In this case, failure to deliver against the action plan, after usual efforts to rectify, will result in the embarrassing withdrawal of the charter certification but not the contract itself. Any part-completed actions must be completed or costs reimbursed such that another party can complete them.

Charter Principles

Local Employment – Charter signatories will create employment and training opportunities for local people especially in target areas

Buy Birmingham First – Charter signatories will take account of the social and economic impacts of buying locally when commissioning and contracting, thereby reducing unemployment and raising the skill level of the local workforce. This means advertising procurement opportunities through

Partners in Communities – Charter signatories will play an active role in the local community and community support organisations, especially in those areas and communities with the greatest need

Good Employer – Charter signatories will support staff development and welfare and adopt the Birmingham Living Wage

Green and Sustainable – Charter signatories will commit to protecting the environment, minimising waste and energy consumption and using other resources efficiently

Ethical Procurement – Charter signatories will commit to employing the highest ethical standards in their own operations and those within their supply chain

For more media information please contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621

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