Labour’s procurement plans highlighted in new report
When it comes to public service procurement, it may look to some like the current Coalition government has been happy to have gone for the lowest price as often as possible, which was definitely good news for larger contractors with the appropriate resources.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing – or selling – for SMEs, many of whom have been emphasising the social and environmental benefits of their products or services during the bidding process but not, it appears, to much avail.
However, a change of government looks like it could provide SMEs with the opportunities they’ve been seeking.
Today’s report, “Socially Responsible Procurement – a Manifesto for Labour”, by a task force sponsored by the Labour Finance and Industry Group together with the Society of Labour Lawyers might just be the key to levelling the public service procurement playing field, should the Coalition go their separate ways this May.
“Socially Responsible Procurement” sets out a new procurement policy and recommendations which reflect Labour’s values, in that although pricing still – of course – needs to be competitive, much more emphasis is to be placed on beneficial social and environmental outcomes.
The report highlights three areas:
The appointment of a Cabinet Minister with responsibility for public procurement
A professionally resourced procurement and contract management function within the Civil Service
The opening up of Central Government contracting to SMEs, with set targets and practices in place to ensure those targets are achieved.
The last point is excellent news for SMEs: currently with £45 billion to spend each year on public procurement, and with plans to ensure 25% of Central Government’s contracting expenditure goes to SMEs at all levels of the supply chain, that’s over £11 billion a year that could be heading their way by the target date of 2020.