In early 2020, our lives changed with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. A truly unprecedented, global event that brought sweeping challenges, which we are still recovering from today.
From the outset, the Scottish Government’s priorities turned quickly towards coordinating the public sector response to the pandemic. Procurement was at the forefront of this, keeping Scotland’s essential public services running, working with our suppliers to protect continuity of supply, developing new and diversified supply chains, driving collaboration and making best use of innovation.
During the extraordinary 12 months outlined in this report, Scottish public bodies used their combined spending power of £14.5 billion to deliver a wide range of essential goods, works and services while also responding to the COVID-19 pandemic – procuring essential PPE and medical supplies, building new infrastructure to support services moving online and swiftly developing new ways of working in the virtual world.
As we transition into a phase of recovery following the pandemic, we see this as an opportunity to implement bold and ambitious plans for the country’s future. We want to use our significant public spending power to make Scotland a better place to live, work and do business.
Procurement plays a crucial role in this. Whether we are buying goods, works or services, we can use our considerable spending power across the public sector in Scotland to promote inclusive economic growth, create opportunities for all, and support and accelerate a just transition towards a net zero economy.
This report demonstrates the significant achievements and improvements made during 2020 to 2021. This included some major milestone moments in procurement activity led by Scotland’s public bodies, from the rapid setup of the NHS Louisa Jordan, to emergency measures designed to keep Scotland moving and functioning safely during the pandemic – including working with transport operators and our suppliers to support the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic, enabling testing and vaccination programmes, ensuring food supplies reached vulnerable homes, and protecting critical services and functions until lockdown restrictions eased.
In August 2020, the Scottish Government published the Economic Recovery Implementation Plan, placing an emphasis on the importance of local economies in driving our sustainable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a key pillar of the Scottish Government’s wider Community Wealth Building policies to keep wealth within communities, and this report demonstrates the efforts being made across the public sector to engage Scottish-based manufacturers and businesses in our supply chains.
As many public bodies and suppliers moved their operations online throughout the year, the public sector remained committed to being open and connected. This report highlights examples of how public bodies continued to operate and engage on a local, national and international scale, not just in managing supply chains, but promoting the impact that innovative public procurement can make on wider sustainable outcomes.
More locally, public bodies continued to foster engagement with SMEs, supported businesses and third sector organisations within their supply chains. These efforts resulted in a significant amount of spend with Scottish-based SMEs.
As we learn to live with COVID-19, we face new challenges, including the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine and the cost crisis. Now more than ever, we must harness the significant public sector spend in Scotland to promote a green and just economic recovery. This will allow us to emerge stronger and to deliver the best possible outcomes for the people of Scotland.
Ivan McKee MSP – Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise
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