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How social and environmental suppliers can help cut costs

To get the latest events, resources and thinking around social impact and sustainability in business subscribe to The Social Procurement Round-Up.


Rising costs are biting into budgets hard. It might seem more difficult now to prioritise social value in supply chains but there are plenty of financial reasons to find and engage social and environmental suppliers.

Less waste, more efficiency

Most social suppliers are conscious of their environmental impact and so incorporate sustainability and efficiency into their operations. This might include reducing unnecessary packaging, reducing the number of deliveries or switching to more efficient production methods as one Supply Change Trusted Supplier did for housing group, Orbit.

Additional social value for little or no extra cost

Creating social value is essential for many businesses. It helps them win contracts, attract investors and for public sector bodies, it is the main objective of their spending. But social value can come at a cost depending on how you create it.

Social enterprise suppliers provide goods and services at a similar or sometimes lower cost to traditional suppliers while providing additional social value. Wates Group calculated that for “For every pound we spend with a social enterprise we generate around £1.77 of social impact”. i

More agile and resilient

44% of social enterprises saw income grow in the first year of the pandemic, compared to 18% of other businesses.ii Social suppliers take on some of society's biggest challenges whilst being commercially competitive. They are often more experienced than traditional businesses in adapting under pressure and so can be more reliable than traditional suppliers.

For social and environmental suppliers, paying out to shareholders (if they have them) is very rarely a priority. Almost all of them use most or all of their profits to reinvest in their business so that they can continue to support those who rely on them. While profit-focused suppliers may cut operational costs to preserve profits for shareholders, social supplierss invest in infrastructure and their staff to increase resilience.


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Retain and attract talent

Heard of ‘The Great Resignation’? With record numbers of empty job openings and resignations this year and the high cost of recruitment, firms have a massive financial incentive to make themselves attractive to young talent. The current workforce has never been more driven by social and environmental missions and engagement with social procurement is an effective way to reflect these values, as noted by Wates Group’s Su Pickerill.

BONUS: Get more income

Whilst increasing your income isn’t really ‘cost cutting’ it certainly helps your bottom line. The Social Value Model hasn’t just meant government suppliers now have the incentive to create social value so as to win contracts, but so does every business in their supply chains. In the private sector, ESG targets have become an integral part of big firms' decision-making. Exhibiting the creation of can swing contract decisions and investor choices.


i NEF Consulting for Wates Group, 2017

ii SEUK, 2021

iv British Business Bank



Find out what social procurement options will suit your organisation. Contact us to organise a chat here.


To get the latest events, resources and thinking around social impact and sustainability in business subscribe to The Social Procurement Round-Up.


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