Small businesses that work with Birmingham City Council and other organisations have been recognised for the efforts they make to operate in an ethical and socially responsible way. A total of 37 organisations were awarded the Birmingham Business Charter for Social Responsibility during a ceremony on January 7. Of those given the honour, 20 were SMEs (Small and medium-sized enterprises) – and received praise from senior city councillors for the positive example they are setting for businesses large and small.

Cllr Stewart Stacey, Cabinet Member for Commissioning, Contracting and Improvement, said: “We have talked in the past about why delivering social value is so important to our local communities. Birmingham has some of the most deprived wards in England with over 250,000 people living in priority or at-risk neighbourhoods.

“The Charter has resulted in the council and businesses working together to improve the employment prospects of local people through increased availability of local jobs, apprenticeships, internships and work placements.

“However we are now getting smarter at targeting our efforts to the most disadvantaged areas where they will have the greatest benefit – asking organisations, where appropriate, to ensure that their Charter action plans focus on those bits of the city that have the highest levels of deprivation.

“I congratulate all of those receiving awards at this ceremony, as they are setting a standard for others to follow – and it is particularly encouraging that so many SMEs are proving that organisations of any size can do this. Everyone now recognises that big businesses should play their part in the wider community, but small organisations can play a part too.”

Overall, 276 organisations have received Charter accreditation since its launch in September 2013, with a further 140 action plans in progress, with scores more expected in the coming months.

As part of their ‘good employer’ commitments, they will pay the UK Living Wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) which is £8.25 per hour
During the current financial year the council has spent over £350m with Charter-accredited suppliers and this will continue to increase as more new contracts are awarded.

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, added: “The businesses and other organisations that have received the Charter clearly appreciate the importance of working in partnership to address the city’s issues.

“They support our priorities of having sustainable neighbourhoods and economic growth and jobs and have shown a clear commitment to pull in the same direction to achieve these aims.

“SMEs are a key part of this. We’ve been known as a city of a thousand trades in the past, and I’d like for us to become a city of a thousand SME clusters. This will mean more SMEs working with the council, helping provide growth and jobs and prosperity for citizens – and the communities in which they operate.”