The i2i Can-do Toolkit provides guidance to the public sector and registered social landlords(RSL) on making targeted recruitment and training a condition of housing contracts when they appoint companies to carry out work on their behalf.
The report on the first three years of the project was launched by Housing Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis today at the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru’s TAI Conference in Cardiff.
The report shows that 2,581 job and training opportunities have been created by the 26 organisations that have adopted the model, almost 1,400 of them in the last year. The figure equates to 15 opportunities per week, many of which are in the most disadvantaged communities in Wales.
A second instalment of the guide, the i2i Can-Do Toolkit 2 – SME friendly procurement, helps RSLs ensure that SMEs meet procurement criteria or that the supply chain includes SMEs has also been piloted by Tai Ceredigion during the year and has resulted in six local SMEs being contracted directly to the housing association rather than sub-contracting for large firms based in England.
Speaking at the conference, the Minister, said:
"The figure of 2,581 job and training opportunities over three years is hugely impressive. If a new factory opened, pledging to create that many jobs over the next three years it would be front page news.
"I am very proud of the achievements we and our partners have made in the housing sector thanks to the Can Do Toolkit. It is a shining example of what can be done to harness the wider benefits of contracts, resulting in local unemployed adults and young people having the opportunity to receive training and work experience, which is essential to be able to compete in today's jobs market’
"It is easy to say that with constrained budgets, government will do less when we actually need to do more. i2i, with its work supporting organisations to ensure procurement delivers for local communities shows how we can make reduced budgets work harder and go further. It is a great model that could be applied to all Ministerial portfolios"
Elin Brock-Jones, who manages the i2i project said:
"These achievements provide us with a reason to be cheerful when looking back at 2011, at a time of significant public spending cuts. However, there is a continuing need to raise the bar.
"Compared with the big budgets such as Health and Education, Housing spend is a mere trickle, yet why is it that Housing can use procurement to create 2,581 job and training opportunities over the last three years and others don’t? The evidence is now clear from the housing sector; getting job and training opportunities secured through social procurement is not just a theoretical possibility. It’s time for others to put rhetoric into reality."
During his address to the conference, the Minister also outlined the progress of the Welsh Government in making housing a greater priority, as well as future challenges. He said:
"At the heart of this Government is a deep commitment to fairness and social justice, and to social, economic and environmental well-being. Investment in housing contributes to all these, which is why we have made a public commitment to make housing a greater priority in the coming years.
"There is much more to do to secure more homes, better homes, and better services but we are delivering, despite all the challenges and the lack of finance. I have, for example, already put in place a new national empty homes initiative ahead of schedule, securing an additional £5million investment into the sector and secured over £18million extra this year for Social Housing Grant. And let’s not forget the excellent work RSLs are doing to build more homes with either less or no grant, or the work of local authorities in meeting the challenge of rising homelessness in the face of welfare benefit reforms.
"But we know that we have to get the right solutions for Wales. Legislation is not the automatic solution. Therefore the White Paper I will publish this spring will set out not only our proposals for new legislative measures for inclusion in the Housing Bill but also the wide range of targeted, non-legislative measures that will help deliver the changes we need."