Job opportunities, the Real Living Wage and reduced carbon emissions as Council harnesses purchasing power


Creating job opportunities and apprenticeships, encouraging local businesses to pay the Real Living Wage and accelerating the move to net zero carbon are outlined as among the key aims of a new strategy designed to help Cardiff become a stronger, greener and fairer city.

Cardiff Council spends £560m every year buying services and goods from 8,000 suppliers and contractors across the city and beyond, making it a key customer for many local businesses. In the past year just over 50% of that spend (£280m) went to Cardiff based business with almost 69% of spend being within the Cardiff Capital Region, which is made up of the ten south east Wales council areas.

But in return for its custom the council is determined that any business it uses does its bit to work in a socially responsible manner which benefits the city and Cardiff residents. To that end a five-year plan has been put in place by the council to ensure it can influence business to ‘think local'.

The Cardiff Council Socially Responsible Procurement Strategy 2022-27 will be brought before Cabinet on October 20thbefore going to Full Council for ratification on October 27th.

Cardiff Council Cabinet Member for Finance and Modernisation, Cllr Chris Weaver, said: "Our vision of a stronger, greener and fairer Cardiff makes it clear that the power of the Council's spending and investment decisions must be used to provide opportunities for local business to create local employment and training opportunities and promoting wider social and environmental improvements. We want the businesses we support to ‘think local', what can they do to boost job opportunities and training opportunities here and how can they help us tackle the climate emergency either through their own supply chains or through ensuring they are working in a greener way.

"We will continue to use the full size and scale of the Council as a force for social and environmental good, setting the standard for all other organisations to follow. This will mean maximising the social impact of our spend, accelerating the move to net zero and leading the way as a ‘Fair Work' employer.

"To this end we are committed to the delivery of community benefits, including employment and apprenticeship opportunities, and the promotion of "Fair Working Practices" including payment of the Real Living Wage. We are proud that Cardiff is recognised as a Living Wage City and would encourage all employers to look at the benefits of becoming an accredited Living Wage employer."

The Socially Responsible Procurement Strategy 2022-2027 is focused on the delivery of seven key objectives:

• Contributing to the Council's aim to be a Carbon-Neutral City by 2030.

• Making procurement spend more accessible to local small businesses and third sector.

• Improving Fair Work and Safeguarding practices adopted by suppliers.

• Increasing community benefits delivered by suppliers.

• Securing value for money and managing demand.

• Ensuring legal compliance and robust and transparent governance.

• Promoting innovative and best practice solutions.


Early successes already achieved by the procurement strategy

Cardiff Council have used the Welsh Government Community Benefits approach for a number of years on large construction and maintenance contracts. However, to maximise the delivery of Community Benefits Cardiff Council have chosen to pilot use of the National TOMs (Themes, Outcomes and Measures) for Wales Social Value Framework. The framework is essentially a list of typical community benefits, that tenderers select what they will commit to deliver over the period of the contract. The council uses the Social Value Portal system to capture contractors' TOMs commitments and to monitor / manage their delivery over the period of the contract.  

As a result, current live contracts include social value commitments which will deliver £6,384,437 of social value. They include:

  • 101 tonnes of carbon reductions
  • 2,447 miles of car miles saved
  • 577 tonnes of waste reduction
  • £1,934,800 of community support
  • 4,954 hours of apprenticeship opportunities
  • 3,865 hours of volunteering
  • 6,293 hours of career support sessions.
  • 347 weeks of work experience


Case Studies

Aaron - Onsite Construction Academy

When Aaron left prison, he was keen to live a crime free life and support his four children and was referred to our Onsite Construction Academy. The academy is based at the site of our low carbon Cardiff Living housing development on the former Eastern High site and is part of a social value commitment from our contractors Wates Ltd.

The Academy sourced Aaron a work trial as a labourer on a major construction site close to his home and fast-tracked him through the academy to gain his CSCS (Construction Scheme Certification Scheme) and other related qualifications. The trial, with the possibility of a long contract at the end, gave him the determination to succeed and his hard work resulted in a job offer. 

Aaron, who is still working full-time, living crime free, and supporting his family, said: "This was an amazing opportunity for me to gain my CSCS with an employment opportunity at the end. My main goal was to find employment soon as I got released to provide for my partner and children. I cannot thank The Boss Project enough for referring me into the academy to change my life for the better. The Academy staff were brilliant ensuring I had the opportunity to gain my CSCS and sourced employment as a result. I have already mentioned the programme to friends who I hope will take up the offer."


Wales' first carbon neutral road - Miles Macadam

Earlier this year Wales' first carbon neutral road resurfacing programme took place in Cardiff when 13,000m2of Northern Avenue was resurfaced by our contractor Miles Macadam. Using Slag Steel aggregate instead of virgin aggregate in a conventional ‘surface course' saved more than 50% in carbon outlay.

The remaining carbon created in the resurfacing work was offset using a Verified Carbon Scheme (VCS) - preventing further deforestation in Brazil - and by planting 100 saplings in the city in recognition of the scheme.

Working closely with our contractor Miles Macadam, this stretch of Northern Avenue has been resurfaced creating 53 tonnes of carbon, compared with 104 tonnes that would have been produced using a hot mix material and natural aggregate.

The carbon footprint to transport materials on and off site was 8 tonnes, compared with 17 tonnes of carbon that would have been produced to quarry the stone from further away, giving an overall carbon saving of 50.4%.


Fitzalan High School - Kier Construction Ltd

The social value element of Kier Construction Ltd's contract to build the new Fitzalan High School has delivered a range of initiatives to engage pupils with the design and construction process of their school and raise awareness of opportunities within the construction industry.

These included:

  • Welcoming18 year 8 and 9 students, from High schools across Cardiff, to the new Fitzalan High School site to attend interactive sessions hosted by Kier and the Council, discussing the fundamentals of construction, innovation in the industry and the future of the education system.
  • Designing the new school gates with a group of year 7 pupils with an interest in design, technology and art. Working with street artist Laura Sparey and members of the Keir team the group have been developing ideas for the designs thatrepresent pupils as individuals, as a community and collectively as a school.
  • Welcoming Greenhill SEN School sixth form students to the construction site to discuss future career opportunities within the construction industry.
  • Supporting Sixth Form students with STEM projects. Three student teams will be mentored as they fulfil a construction related brief of designing a prototype to reduce carbon on a construction site or reducing the use of plastics or developing a way to re-use/recycle plastics on site. Their working prototypes will be created at Cardiff University, and presented at a Wales-wide showcase event.
  • Supporting Cardiff's ‘Food and Fun' school holiday enrichment programmeat eight schools.


LED Street Lighting - Centregreat Ltd

As part of their £5 million contract to install LED Street Lighting on streets and highways around Cardiff, Centregreat Ltd have worked with a range or partners on projects that have engaged more than 500 pupils at four Cardiff High Schools.

Projects included supporting Cantonian High School with their Careers Fair, focussing on career opportunities and pathways into a variety of industries and growth sectors. The company also supported Cardiff West Community High School's careers and work-related experience offer with mock interviews, motivational speakers and workplace visits, and funded an 18-month construction industry engagement programme for 16 pupils from Greenhill Special School and the Pupil Inclusion Unit.

45 young people aged 11-16, identified by their schools as needing additional support due to an unsettled home setting or problems in the community have also benefitted from Centregreat funded opportunities to meet with Looked After Children in Education youth mentors.

Next April, 49 pupils from Cardiff West Community High who receive free-school meals will visit Auschwitz on a potentially life-changing trip, fully funded by Centregreat. Meanwhile, a number of Willows High School pupils will taking part in a Challenge Wales journey across the sea,  where they will gain a variety of skills and qualifications, also funded by the company.             


Millennium Walkway - Pluradeck

The replacement of the timber decking on Millennium Walkway was a £2,200,000 contract but for every £1 spent on the project, £1.52 went back into the Welsh economy. But it wasn't just Welsh employees and SME's that benefitted, it was also the planet because the replacement decking was reinforced plastic boards manufactured from 100% recycled plastic, utilising approximately 750,000 plastic bottles. Social value commitments in the contract also lead to the delivery of 32 weeks of apprenticeship training, 115 students and pupils being supported with STEM and construction careers engagement activities, 59 hours of ‘in kind' labour contributions, and a £1,800 worth of donations to good causes.