Procurement activity: annual report 2018 to 2019

Overview of public procurement activity in Scotland for 2018 to 2019 based on information contained in individual procurement reports prepared by public bodies and other relevant information.

5. Conclusion

There is a lot to be positive about. Public procurement spend continues to represent a significant component of the Scottish economy, making an important contribution to Scottish GDP and full-time employment. Scottish public sector bodies have conducted their procurement processes in a manner which is open and connected and good for businesses, communities and wider society.

This report has highlighted a range of examples of good procurement practice from across the public sector and the annual procurement reports remain key to our understanding of the full scope and scale of public procurement activity in Scotland. The quality of annual procurement reports has improved since last year and this report has many examples of public bodies increasingly documenting their commitments and activities. It is likely that the quality of reporting will continue to improve as the process becomes further embedded into routine practice.

Steady progress is being made to ensure that SMEs, third sector organisations and supported businesses are able to access contract opportunities, and that they are supported along every step of the way.

Public bodies are increasingly working in collaboration with others, both within Scotland and further afield, and great efforts also continue to be made to promote Scottish procurement at an international level and to strengthen Scotland’s reputation as being at the forefront of procurement policy and practice.

Despite these successes, we must not become complacent. Where SMEs, supported businesses and third sector organisations are concerned, it is important that a level playing field is created and maintained, enabling those who are interested in contracting with the public sector to have the opportunities to do so. We need to ensure that the good work and strong levels of commitment that public bodies are displaying with regard to SMEs, supported businesses and third sector bodies is translating into practice which can be evidenced at a local, regional and national level.

The Scottish Government’s dedication to Fair Work is longstanding and is shared by partners across the public, private and third sectors, and among trade unions and others who will help us deliver this agenda. Good work is evidently being done in relation to Fair Work considerations, but we still have work to do to ensure that Fair Work matters and wider equality outcomes are embedded in more contracts.

Our Fair Work approach continues to gain momentum across the public sector and ministers continue to engage to promote the important role that public bodies play – most recently, encouraging them to adopt the Fair Work First criteria within their organisations and apply it to the funding they administer.

Businesses in communities across Scotland are benefiting from public body procurement spend and there is a good spread of spend across communities with different levels of socio-economic advantage. Recent global events have underlined the importance of ensuring that our public services are responsive, adaptable and fit for purpose, and it is vital that we strive to do more to use our spend to build diverse, resilient and responsible supply chains, maximising the local benefits of public procurement.

Importantly, we are harnessing the opportunity to learn from our experiences and building on steps taken to deliver the procurement outcomes that we are all seeking to achieve – procurement that is:

  • good for businesses and their employees
  • good for society
  • good for places
  • open and connected

These steps are reflected in our commitments within the Economic Recovery Implementation Plan that was published in August 2020 and the Government’s Programme for Scotland that was published in September 2020. In our Economic Recovery Implementation Plan, we set out our approach to driving our sustainable economic recovery. We committed to ensuring that local businesses and the third sector are aware of procurement opportunities and are able to respond; and to make it easier for local suppliers to win contracts and to maximise support for local supply chain development. We also committed to help mobilise our £12.6 billion annual public procurement spend to support our climate emergency response and to underpin our longer term climate and circular economy ambitions. We are continuing to fund the Supplier Development Programme while exploring ways in which we can increase capability and capacity to grow our local markets.

As our economic recovery from the pandemic continues, it is vital that we keep pace with these commitments. These commitments demonstrate how we will maximise the inclusive and green economic impact of public procurement and ensure that we are working collaboratively to support the delivery of public services that are high quality, continually improving, efficient and responsive to local people’s needs.



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