Procurement activity: annual report overview 2020 to 2021

An overview of public procurement activity in Scotland for 2020 to 2021, based on information contained in individual annual procurement reports prepared by public bodies and other relevant information.


1 Note that a regulated procurement is any procurement carried out by a public body in relation to the award of a contract with an estimated value of £50,000 excluding VAT and above for goods and services and of £2 million and above excluding VAT for works.

2 The information on the Hub relates only to spend figures for suppliers that were classed as commercial organisations or as non-trade social care providers, and with whom individual public bodies have spent £1,000 or more in aggregate in that year.

3 Scotland’s four Procurement Centres of Expertise (Central Government Procurement, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges [APUC], NHS National Procurement and Scotland Excel) provide guidance and support to public bodies in relation to public procurement matters.

Carried out every two years, the Social Enterprise Census provides an overview of the social enterprise sector in Scotland, by capturing information on the characteristics, prospects and needs of the organisations which make up the sector. The Census is coordinated by CEIS in partnership with the Social Value Lab. For more information, see the Social Enterprise Census website.

4 As a reminder, the figures from the Hub exclude spend with suppliers that were not classed as commercial organisations or as non-trade social care providers, and with whom individual public bodies spent less than £1,000 in aggregate during the year.

5 Note that the remaining £300 million relates to spend where we do not know the location of the supplier. This figure likely comprises a mixture of Scottish-based, UK-based and overseas suppliers.

6 Note that the majority of annual procurement reports data relates to the financial year April 2020 to March 2021. However, the financial year for universities and colleges runs from August 2020 to July 2021 and this is reflected in the data in their annual procurement reports.

7 For more information, see SPPN 5/2020.

8 Please note that the latest available Input-Output model is derived from a pre-COVID snapshot of the Scottish economy. Comparisons of annual updates of Input-Output modelled economic impacts of future spending over time are not advised. Alongside the changes in the economy expected as a result of COVID-19, other changes in the structure of the economy over time, changes in the System of National Accounts and changes in Input-Output Table methodology, will also affect the estimates. Step changes in the results can and do arise when the underlying IO model is updated. For more information about the development and use of Scottish Government input-output tables please see the Scottish Government website.

9 Note that one registration does not always necessarily equate to one supplier. This is because more than one registration can be received from the same supplier.

10 By ‘low value contracts’, we mean contracts below the higher value thresholds. For more information, see SPPN 8/2019 and SPPN 8/2021.

11 The number of suppliers awarded contracts is higher than the number of contracts advertised for two reasons. First, the number of suppliers awarded contracts will relate to contracts that were advertised in 2020 to 2021, as well as a small number of contracts that were advertised in 2019 to 2020 but not awarded until 2020 to 2021. Second, the supplier numbers are not unique; as a reminder, one supplier may have multiple registrations on PCS. Figures correct as at June 2021.

12 This figure includes businesses that are based/headquartered in Scotland, and also other businesses with a presence in Scotland.

13 These figures are not based on the £14.5 billion total spend. Rather, they exclude £1.7 billion of spend where the size of the businesses receiving this spend is unknown.

14 Information on the number of Scottish public procurement suppliers is based on clustered groupings of a combination of supplier name, address or classification information, not the legal entity for each supplier. Therefore this figure is an estimate.

15 These figures are not based on the £8.3 billion total spend in Scotland. Rather, they exclude the £1.3 billion of spend in Scotland where the size of the businesses receiving this spend is unknown.

16 This figure must be treated as an estimate of total spend with the third sector not only because of the caveats described previously, but also because the third sector itself is not limited only to registered charities and social enterprises. For example, the wider sector also includes voluntary groups and, currently, the Hub does not verify whether a supplier is a voluntary group. The real level of spend with the third sector is therefore likely to be greater than the figure quoted here.

17 For more information, please see the Scottish Government’s Construction Policy Notes, for example CPN 1/2020, which set out the position regarding construction work during the pandemic.

18 Fair Work requirements can be addressed in tender exercises by including either scored questions, non-scored questions for information only, or pass/fail questions. A scored Fair Work award criterion question requires suppliers to describe the Fair Work practices they propose to adopt to engage their workers in order to have a positive impact on the quality of the service delivery, works performed or goods supplied. The nature and weighting applied to any question to be included will be determined on a contract-by-contract basis. For more information, see the Scottish Government website. Note that Fair Work and the accompanying guidance was later superseded by Fair Work First; we will report on progress in the implementation of Fair Work First into procurement processes in future reports.

19 The combined total supplier figures referred to in this section may not represent unique suppliers. A supplier may be awarded a regulated contract by more than one public body, in which case they would be counted once by each public body they have been contracted by.

20 Geographical spend is based on known postcodes which are obtained from a supplier’s invoice address. The data does not capture the distribution of spend within an awarded contract – for example, a contract awarded to a company based in South Lanarkshire might be spent across a range of local authorities. As such, the data presented here cannot be seen as an entirely accurate depiction of where the economic benefits of Scottish public body procurement flow. Nevertheless, it represents a useful starting point for gauging levels of spend in different areas.

21 On the Hub, spend is classified as local if the purchasing authority is based in the same local authority area as the supplier, whereas it is classed as elsewhere if they are in different local authorities. The analysis is dependent on known supplier postcodes. Supplier postcodes are matched to the list of postcodes in the local authority area in which the customer is based. The local authority area is defined by the ONS.

22 Subsequently updated in SPPN 3/2022.

23 By ‘public bodies’ we mean all organisations which are subject to public procurement laws. This includes central government (and other significant bodies), local government, universities and colleges, health bodies and registered social landlords.



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