Buy Social is about delivering real benefits to communities

Buy Social is about delivering real benefits to communities

Buy Social is about delivering real benefits to communities

These benefits include:

  • Targeted recruitment and training for people who are long-term unemployed and leaving education
  • Opportunities for people with disability or learning difficulties
  • The provision of skills
  • Working with schools and colleges to enrich the curriculum

It was subsequently agreed that the Strategic Investment Board would undertake an independent review. The review was undertaken in consultation with the Department of Finance’s Central Procurement Directorate, particularly in terms of developing practical models for the future and included consultation with Permanent Secretaries and senior staff in Departments, with representative organisations from both the Construction Industry Forum (CIFNI) and Business and Industry Forum (BIFNI); and with Centres of Procurement Excellence (CoPEs).

Drawing on best practice, the Review concluded that a change of emphasis would secure the best outcomes:

  • a focus on paid employment and training opportunities;
  • concentration on the larger contracts “where efforts will have the biggest impact;
  • bringing together requirements for opportunities for new entrant trainees: long-term unemployed people, young people leaving education (because of higher levels of youth unemployment), apprentices, and paid student work placements. This offers flexibilities for contractors in tailoring compliance with the clauses to their workforce needs;
  • the establishment of a social benefits reference group, as a means of promoting the new arrangements in Departments and encouraging early engagement at business case stage;
  • a proposal for more comprehensive brokerage services to help link new entrants and relevant contractors and provide a support service for new entrants that facilitates their transition into work; and
  • underpinning these arrangements with legislation in the new Assembly mandate.

The proposals also included new monitoring arrangements to provide more comprehensive data on the outputs secured.

On 5th November 2015 the Procurement Board agreed the Strategic Review of Social Clauses and the Buy Social Construction model for implementation from April 2016. The Procurement Board agreed that a letter should be sent to the Executive, detailing the desire to move forward with the Construction sector straight away, with a model for services to be further investigated and consulted on. The letter would also note the need to consider what provision the next Programme for Government should make on social clauses.

From April 2016 the Buy Social requirements are to be used in procurement above £2m for construction and above £4m for civil engineering contracts.


Over 400 people have gained training or employment through Buy Social.

The Buy Social model for ICT contracts is in development.

The Buy Social team continue to work with clients who want to include targeted opportunities for people with a disability, looked after children or people with an offending background in their Buy Social contracts.

March 2018

The GO Awards Northern Ireland takes place on 14th March in Titanic Hotel, Belfast.  The Awards recognise those individuals, teams and organisations that have gone above and beyond normal standards, to make real differences to the quality of public services in Northern Ireland.

The inaugural Go Buy Social/Sustainable Procurement Award is won by the Central Procurement Directorate-Health Projects, in conjunction with South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and GRAHAM-BAM Healthcare Partnerships in recognition of their extensive collaboration and innovation in their delivery of a new Acute Service Block at the Ulster Hospital.

Two further entries are highly commended:

  • The Department for Infrastructure, AECOM, Graham Farrans Joint Venture, ARUP, Roughan & O’Donovan and Linesight for their work on the A6 Dualling Scheme.
  • Farrans Construction for their delivery of the Altnagelvin North Wing Redevelopment Hospital Project

February 2018

A second edition of the Buy Social toolkit is published.

December 2017

So far, over 300 people who were long term unemployed or had no substantial work experience have been able to access a job opportunity through a Buy Social project.

Buy Social sponsor a Go Award, with the awards ceremony taking place on 14 March 2018 in Belfast. The Go Buy Social/Sustainable Procurement Award recognises the crucial role that public procurement plays in Northern Ireland in providing a more sustainable and equitable society.

October 2017

Central Procurement Department issue the Buy Social Model for Services to all Heads of Centres of Procurement Expertise in Northern Ireland.

September 2017

The Buy Social Strategic Plan 2017-2019 was agreed with endorsement and support from senior officials in all nine Government Departments.

March 2017

The Buy Social team continues to grow with the appointment of two new Development Officers. Work commences on a Buy Social Professional Services and IT model.

February 2017

The Procurement Board discussed the Buy Social Services Model and following further discussion with a number of Departments the model is agreed. The Buy Social Model for Services is now mandatory for all contracts above £500,000 per annum.

July 2016

The OECD report, Implementing Joined-up Governance for a Common Purpose, which is a strategic review of the Public Sector is published. The review recommends the Government:

  • Ensure ongoing, high level commitment to better integrate social objectives in the planning and commissioning phases of more procurement processes.
  • Develop and make available expertise to commissioning and procurement officials as they undertake their work.
  • Develop the necessary expertise, collect and share successful examples and best practices within Northern Ireland, and cultivate additional relationships with neighbourhood, local and regional organisations that can assist in identifying proposals for social outcomes that are truly welcomed by and beneficial to the targeted communities.

(OECD; p.46)

April 2016

Buy Social becomes mandatory in construction and civil engineering contracts. Buy Social requirements are to be used in procurement above £2m for buildings contracts and above £4m for civil engineering contracts.

Brokerage website goes live which has been created to help contractors who win public work find employability brokers who will help them deliver their Buy Social Clause obligations, for more information visit

February 2016

Further development of the Buy Social Team with the appointment of a Research & Policy Officer for Buy Social.

November 2015

Procurement Board agreed the Strategic Review of Social Clauses and the Buy Social Construction Model for implementation from April 2016. The key recommendations accepted were:

  • Introduction of threshold values (£2m building, £4m civil engineering)
  • One KPI of person-weeks
  • Employment not work experience
  • Introduction of legislation
  • Greater focus on compliance (monitoring)
  • Opportunities for under 25s
  • Brokerage

August 2015

Development of the Buy Social Team, with the appointment of two Development Officers employed by SIB to provide training and assistance with implementation of the new approach following the review.

January 2015

First publication of the Buy Social Toolkit.

November 2014

Procurement Board requested a thorough evaluation of the impact of social clauses. Strategic Investment Board (SIB) agreed to undertake an independent review in consultation with the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD).


There are currently 75 live Buy Social contracts across the construction, services and ICT industries in Northern Ireland. A complete list of current Buy Social contracts, including relevant contractor contact information, is available for download directly beneath.

We provide this information for Buy Social Brokerage organisations, who can use the information to contact contractors about job opportunities relevant to the people they work with. To register as a Buy Social Brokerage organisation, visit

Download list of current Buy Social contracts


A broker refers to a training/employability organisation/education establishment who may be willing to work with a contractor to help them meet their Buy Social requirements by connecting the contractor with New Entrant Trainees. The Buy Social Brokerage website has been created to help contractors who win public work find employability brokers who will assist them in delivering their Buy Social clause obligations.

A Guide for Contractors, which provides more information on Brokerage, is available to download from the resources section of this website. For more information please visit or alternatively email: