Increase spending with SMEs and VCSEs

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the UK economy, supporting local communities to grow and be prosperous. A number are also voluntary and community social enterprises (VCSEs) whose social mission is central to their activities, supporting a range of environmental and social issues. We are committed to supporting SMEs through our supply chain, creating and supporting sustainable jobs in the communities we serve, and increasing our positive impact on disadvantaged groups and the natural environment.

Working with SMEs

We were proud to support a Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) initiative aimed at helping small UK businesses in the infrastructure sector to get ready for EU exit. Nearly 80% of Amey’s 5700 suppliers are SMEs and, as a national operator, we were in an ideal position to cascade government guidance directly to businesses ahead of 1 January 2021. We also held supplier workshops led by subject matter experts and Business Readiness Forums for trade associations, business representative bodies and business intermediaries.

We have not set corporate targets for spend with SMEs (with the exception of spend with VCSEs). Instead, these are devolved to local projects and contracts, aligned to our customers’ priorities and those of the local area. We do however track all our spend so we can monitor progress and trends. Setting these targets often sits alongside the requirement to use local suppliers – especially with Local Authority clients.

Supporting and promoting Social Enterprise

We are committed members of Social Enterprise UK’s Buy Social Corporate Challenge which helps us support the growth of the VCSE community.

Amey spent £4.5m with social enterprise suppliers in 2020 and has set a target of 5% of addressable spend to be spent with VCSEs by the end of 2023. This is an ambitious target and we are aware that there are not currently enough social enterprises in the market that supply the type, or the volume of product or services we require. To achieve this target we expect the need for existing social enterprises to grow and diversify and/or the need for new social enterprises to be established. In both cases we will be proactive in our support.

Click on the video links below to hear from the social enterprises we've been working with:

  • In July we sent all 15,000 employees a reusable face covering, packaged and distributed by the social enterprise Ethical Stationery. In doing so we provided two days’ employment for 18 homeless and vulnerable adults. We also supported three charities in Lives Not Knives, Evolve Housing and Nightwatch – to whom we also donated 200 masks.
  • This year we developed a partnership with the social enterprise Paint360 which provides environmentally friendly recycled paint, while creating jobs for young people who are ex-offenders or long-term unemployed in the Black Country. Their business operates by collecting waste paint and recycling it for onward use; every 1 litre of paint produced saves enough embedded carbon to drive a transit van 5 miles carbon free.
  • We continued to partner with the Britain's Bravest Manufacturing Company the UK's leading social enterprise for providing employment opportunities to members of the Armed Forces community.

Launching our Social Value Supply Chain Charter

At the end of 2019 we launched our Social Value Supply Chain Charter as a means to engage and work with all our suppliers, in particular SMEs, on their commitment and contribution to social impact. 

We used the charter to access tenders for the appointment of our stationery supplier, for which Office Depot was successful.

  • Partnering with Office Depot will see Amey moving from daily to weekly consolidated orders  saving the equivalent annual energy usage of ten average UK homes.
  • 66% of Amey’s spend on office products and services will now have green credentials. For instance, Amey will be switching to EcoPerformance paper, reducing wood usage by 32% and waste by 6%.
  • We will also be participating in the Office Depot’s ‘Eureka’ programme, which will see us engage with schools across the country, supporting young people to get involved in educational activities