Inclusive Growth through procurement in Scottish City Region Deals

Picture of Peter Hayakawa, blog author

Peter Hayakawa, Procurement Policy Officer, University of Edinburgh

The Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal (ESESCRD) is a major investment of the UK and Scottish governments, led by the region’s six local authorities (Edinburgh and the Lothians, Scottish Borders and Fife) and higher education institutions, to accelerate growth and tackle deprivation and inequality.

It features investments in transport, housing, an integrated skills and training programme (known as the Integrated Regional Employability and Skills Programme (IRES), and innovation. The University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University are leading the Deal’s Data Driven Innovation (DDI) programme, managing capital and skills investments that will position Edinburgh as the “Data Capital of Europe”.

Ensuring the investments support Inclusive Growth is a major aim of the Deal. This involves grappling with complex, so-called ‘wicked’ problems including supporting gender parity, better outcomes for vulnerable people or those who share protected characteristics, and upscaling the capacity of the region’s businesses, third sector and workforce.

While collaboration is more productive than working in silos, it requires intensive commitment from partners to establish and maintain. This is especially true with Inclusive Growth, which requires extra time to engage project partners, community members and businesses with delivery partners and evidence in order to co-design effective and reportable activities. Resources for this kind of engagement are lacking even among committed partners. It is also difficult to design scalable, measurable activities that are still flexible enough to support the often exciting bespoke collaborations that sometimes generate the best outcomes.

However, the shared governance partnership and the explicit inclusion aims of the Deal provide special opportunities for the public sector in the region to:

  • permanently increase our capacity to work together effectively

  • develop shared aims and common direction and measures of success

  • take advantage of the region’s capacity and expertise

  • examine and develop partnerships and shared evidence to deliver outcomes and impact rather than just outputs, and

  • turn Inclusive Growth activity into a core consideration for major projects with measures that are scalable, flexible and subject to continuous improvement.


Procurement and Inclusive Growth

The University of Edinburgh’s Procurement team is implementing established and innovative approaches to leverage procurement for an Inclusive Growth agenda, working closely with the University’s Data Driven Innovation (DDI) team and ESESCRD leads, including the Capital City Partnership.

We are committed to joint-working with local authorities on community benefits requirements, which are partnership activities undertaken with procurement suppliers to incorporate training, local supply chain spend, innovation or other benefits to a region. Early and sustained engagement with suppliers to co-create appropriate Inclusive Growth outcomes will be key, as will learning from the previous experience and great work of local authorities.

We are also engaging with communities, social enterprises and supported businesses, and promoting fair work and positive actions on equality and diversity through procurement. Below is an in-depth list of Inclusive Growth procurement activities that the University of Edinburgh is currently exploring or delivering with Deal and supplier partners.

Collaborative innovation

Higher education institutions are particularly well-placed to leverage funding and expertise to facilitate partnerships, and the University of Edinburgh is engaging our suppliers in innovation activities on global challenges including the climate emergency, circular economy and biodiversity. For example, we have worked with suppliers to develop data-driven low carbon innovations in construction at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) in an EIT Climate KIC funded City Deal Procurement Pathfinder project, and connected them with university students across disciplines, who use data innovation to help design out waste in construction through DDI’s Students as Change Agents programme.

Challenges of COVID-19

COVID-19 presents serious challenges to Inclusive Growth work. The emerging economic impact may limit resources, while ongoing social distancing will make many in-person activities (e.g. on-site work experience) difficult or impossible. The University hopes to work with suppliers to explore how smarter leveraging of procurement data and relationships can support an ‘inclusive response’ and an ‘inclusive recovery’ for region businesses and workers.

Find out more information visit South East Scotland City Region Deal and Data Driven Initiative.

For more information on inclusive growth and City Region Deals, please see SHRED’s new practice note on Community Wealth Building.

Procurement Community Benefits in the City Region Deal could include:

  • Community wealth building and regional economic impact, including spend within region, social enterprise engagement, and opportunities for bespoke, decoupled or aggregated impact initiatives.

  • £ spend with region businesses; £ spend with social enterprises

  • Employability, skills and training, including support for Deal’s SMART targets for FTE and training, external funding leveraged, as well as links to IRES/skills and DDI targets and initiatives.

  • Potential KPI: Number of FTE roles; Number of DDI linked CPD hrs

  • Equalities/ target groups/ protected characteristics, including alignment with Deal protected characteristic SMART targets and scoping and achieving appropriate positive action activities across projects (e.g., reserving training, placements or internships for target groups).

  • Potential KPI: Number of agreed positive action equalities activities

  • Data Driven Innovation and Social Innovation, engaging project and theme partners at business case and procurement stages to identify/develop opportunities.

  • Potential KPI: Third party funding leveraged for innovation or research activity

  • Environment, Climate Action and Circular Economy, including jointly engaging supplier market in developing good practice and innovation opportunities, linking supply chain and SMEs to sustainability support and training, leveraging funding to support circular economy, emissions monitoring or reduction through DDI, or regional biodiversity initiatives.

  • Potential KPI: Number of CPD training hrs for region supply chain SMEs on low carbon construction and carbon accountancy


City Region Deal Procurement Inclusive Growth Activities could also include:

  • Smarter use of procurement data for regional economic impact and innovation, creating a baseline of regional spend, including through subcontractors, to understand impact of public spending on inclusive growth, but also mapping key sectors in each authority and leveraging for social innovation, engagement and opportunity generation.

  • Potential KPI: £ spend with region businesses; £ spend with social enterprises

  • Fair work practices and the UK real Living Wage, ensuring all partner projects incorporate consideration of fair work and workers are paid the Living Wage.

  • Potential KPI: Percentage of workers paid the real Living Wage

  • Protected characteristics and positive destination/ customer tracking, engaging suppliers in IRES or skills agenda and leveraging procurement projects to collect useful equalities data in line with theme SMART targets, testing strategies for positive destination tracking and engaging suppliers on longer term issues, including addressing gender parity.

  • Potential KPI: Gender representation across projects, as a percentage

  • Demonstrating the benefits of partnership working and innovation opportunities, including alignment with other ESESCRD programmes or existing partner capacity, and opportunities for DDI and Social Innovation.

  • Potential KPI: Number of shared inclusive growth KPIs developed; number of procurement outputs contributing to Deal IRES/ skills or DDI commitments; number of joint market and community engagement/co-creation events

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