Europe has, since the economic crisis of 2007, gained increasing social segregation. The gap between rich and poor has increased and the large number of hidden statistics regarding people excluded from the labor market is greater than in many years. Social exclusion has thus taken a toll on community groups that already before the crisis had a hard time getting included. Groups such as young, elderly, immigrants and people with mental of physical disabilities. To curb this development, the European Commission have, since the 2004 directives, enabled public sector clients to, through procurement of goods, services and contracts, include measures that promote social consideration.
Social consideration is a term that have been a part of Swedish procurement legislation since 2007, and was updated in 2010. This update meant that the meaning of this term was given greater weight and that clients were more clearly encouraged to use the term.
The term social consideration have proven to be an unclear term, both in European tutorials and governmental investigations. Investigators describe the possibility as difficult to interpret and legally complex. To enable a smooth implementation, an open dialogue between clients and contractors have been recommended. A dialogue which, according to this study based on personal interviews, is being missing, partly or completely, in many places around central Sweden.
The goal and purpose of this study is based on a range of issues surrounding the concept of social consideration and its impact on the public sector in Sweden. What is being done, what is wanted and why. The personal interviews where conducted with municipal housing companies and municipalities in order to reconcile the current state of the new contract term.
These interviews clearly show that the term social consideration is known by the majority of public clients in central Sweden. However, only one out of seven interviewees have hitherto pushed through a work contract with predetermined requirements on social considerations. Notable though, is that three out of seven interviewees where in the process of publishing work contracts with the instituted social demands criterion.
The justification for why the remaining parties did not, or where not planning to, set social standards in public work contracts was motivated mainly by the absence of knowledge in the subject. Clearer evidence and better guidance was considered a linchpin for future implementation. It was consistently put forth that social responsibility can lead to good future synergies for both society and their own company. But the design of how to set the requirement or requirements and in what stage, is something that every interviewed party had its own opinion about.
Despite divided opinions on how and at what stage social considerations should be included in public procurement, there is a unified voice among the interviewed parties saying that the concept of social responsibility and consideration is here to stay.