During a visit to the "Harbour Way" project the Minister heard how using the Welsh Government’s “Community Benefits” policy had resulted in local people being offered employment and Welsh companies making up 91% of those awarded contracts.
The "Harbour Way" project will provide a 4.8km link to the M4 at Junction 38 (Margam) into Port Talbot and the docks, serving as a vital link to West Wales, the UK motorway network, the trunk road network and mainland Europe. It has been awarded £50m from the Welsh Government.
The development contractor, Costain has adopted the Community Benefits approach which, over the last two years, has been applied to £3.4bn of public sector contracts.
Jane Hutt said:
"The Harbour Way project is a great example of how large construction projects can bring about huge benefits to the local communities. Policies such as the "Community Benefits" policy are having a very positive impact and we must ensure widespread adoption of this best practice. Public procurement in Wales is delivering and will continue to deliver the changes needed."
Used with great effect in the delivery of construction and housing projects, the Community Benefits approach asks suppliers to map out how they will deliver benefits for the community they are working in – for example, they may provide training, employment or apprenticeships to people in the surrounding area, and supply chain opportunities for local Welsh companies.
Six early projects using the approach were tracked through to delivery. These contracts totalled £146m with almost 85% being spent in Wales.
£56m went directly in salaries to Welsh people, and £68m (47%) was spent with Wales based businesses, 82% of which were Welsh SMEs.
140 disadvantaged people received 8500 weeks work experience and 44 apprentices received 7000 weeks of training. Overall an estimated 2200 jobs for Wales were therefore protected or created through this policy.
New figures announced recently showed that in Wales employment in the construction sector in 2011 had fallen by only 0.4%, compared to falls of up to 15% in all other parts of the UK.