Changes to ensure public contracts do more to boost jobs, apprenticeships and the Scottish economy were revealed today.
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on new laws designed to improve the way the public sector buys goods, works and services.
The Scottish public sector spends over £9 billion every year and, in 2011, over 45% of this spending was with small or medium sized businesses.
And of the contracts awarded through Public Contracts Scotland, Scotland’s national contract advertising portal, around 75% went to businesses registered from a Scottish address.
The Procurement Reform Bill will seek to ensure that all public bodies adopt transparent, streamlined and standardised procurement processes that are friendly to Scottish businesses.
The consultation on the Bill will also explore substantially expanding the use of community-benefit clauses in higher value contracts, helping to promote training, apprenticeships and opportunities for the disabled and long-term unemployed.
Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment, Alex Neil said:
“Good public procurement is a vital contributor to growing the economy and creating jobs and training opportunities.
“More effective and efficient public services will play a key economic and social role in Scotland’s future and public procurement is an important lever for change.
“The Scottish Government has achieved much already in improving the way the procurement system operates in Scotland, but clearly there is still room for further improvement to ensure taxpayers’ money is used to best effect.
“Over £9 billion is spent each year through public sector contracts and this Bill will mean that money works as hard as it can for our economy. That will include producing more training opportunities, for example through making apprenticeships an integral part of major public contracts.
“That is why this Bill will drive procurement reform further forward by embedding good policy, systems and practice in legislation to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits.”
Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:
“Scottish Chambers of Commerce have been pressing the Scottish Government for some time to take action to ensure that public bodies adhere to best practice in procurement.
“We have worked in partnership to successfully deliver significant reforms, but there remains more to do to ensure that the impact of public procurement as an economic lever is optimised.
“We therefore welcome this consultation as the next step in the procurement reform process. We intend to work with our members and the business community to ensure that this legislation delivers for Scottish businesses.”