lady on machine.jpgWe are keen to encourage corporations and public sector bodies to buy their goods and services from Social Firms.  Here is some useful information for:

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Social Firms wishing to sell their goods/services

The Star Social Firm quality standard

We have developed a quality standard for the Social Firm sector called the Star Social Firm. It has been created to reassure procurement officers that Social Firms are having the social impact that they say they are having.  We believe that, if promoted appropriately, the development of this standard will ease the process for Social Firms because their social impact will have been externally verified. For more information visit:

Article 19 / Reserved Contracts

Supported businesses that employ >50% of their workforce who are disabled people are entitled to be listed on this website: . Some of our member Social Firms also qualify for being on See the attached briefing on this opportunity for more information. If you believe you might qualify but aren’t listed with us here at Social Firms UK then get in touch with us. As Social Firms UK carries out the mapping of the sector then members need to work through us to get included on the database as we can verify the minimum employment %. See Procurement & Social Firms: Accessing Reserved Contracts - Guidelines For The Social Firm Sector.

Get On The Database For Suppliers To The Public Sector!

The Government has a website: which enables organisations to register and receive notification of their local procurement contract opportunities below a value of £100k completely free of charge. By registering as a supplier, Social Firms and emerging Social Firms can now automatically receive notification of contract opportunities local to them and compete for such contracts on an equal footing.  To register for local opportunities (based on postcode) is completely free of charge; to upgrade to a region has a cost implication of £70 per annum; to upgrade to a nation (England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland) costs £99 per annum and to upgrade to UK-wide costs £180 per annum. Upgrade options for receiving notification of contract opportunities more than £100k have a different cost structure.

Organisations wishing to procure from Social Firms

Find suppliers using the UK Social Firm Trade Directory

You can find Social Firms to buy from by visiting the UK Social Firm Trade Directory at .  This comprehensive list of UK Social Firms is searchable by business type and location to help you find the product or service you are looking for.  Don't forget to look out for the Star Social Firm quality standard.

Useful resources

Many useful resources about procurement can be found on our website resource centre at but here is a selection:

  • Fresh Thinking (Mark Cook, Anthony Collins Solicitors, 2009)

This document is intended to provoke better thinking about how wellbeing is procured in the public arena. It assesses the difficulties in the UK with achieving social benefits in public procurement; describes various initiatives aimed at dispelling myths about good and bad practice; and speculates as to how the Green Book and other government guidance does not quite hit the mark in this area. It offers three steps towards embedding better value for money through embracing social, economic and environmental benefits with the aim of achieving improved outcomes for places and people in the UK.  Mark Cook is a national expert on procurement and a partner at Anthony Collins Solicitors.

  • Public Procurement: A Toolkit For Social Enterprises. (DTI, 2003)

This procurement toolkit aims to assist social enterprises across the UK to bid for and win public sector contracts, and was been published as part of the Government's strategy: 'Social Enterprise: A Strategy For Success'. It begins with deciding whether public sector business is for you, looks at finding opportunities and how to prepare bids and deliver contracts.

  • Tender Readiness Toolkit (Sheffield Community Enterprise Development Unit (SCEDU)

This toolkit is aimed at organisations looking to get into procurement. It is an internal awareness toolkit for organisations to benchmark their ability to enter the procurement agenda. It comprises a series of in-house assessment tools to organisations identify what areas of their business might need addressing, and what measures might need to be put in place in order to bid for tenders.

  • Commissioning And procurement: Fit For Purpose Toolkit, East London CVS Networks

This toolkit was developed to assist governing bodies (boards and management committees) to understand and explore the implications of delivering public services under contract. For information contact The price of a single copy is £15, multiple copies £10 each and over 100 copies £5 each plus P&P.

  • Procurement and tendering: processes and regulation (Finance Hub)

This guide provides a background to the new emphasis by purchasing authorities on tendering for contracts rather than providing grant aid for organisations. This is a new approach for many organisations in the voluntary, care, health and housing sectors, although long established for other types of organisations particularly those providing supplies and capital works for publicly funded authorities.

These are guidelines we wrote in September 2006 about the public sector procurement Directive – Article 19 – which was introduced in January of that year. This new provision gives contracting authorities the option to reserve contracts for organisations providing supported employment opportunities to disabled people.