Comments on Equalities Impact Assessments (EQIA)
Five respondents commented on Equalities Impact Assessments.
One executive body / NDPB along with two NHS respondents felt that the definition of a supported business may not be clear enough. The executive body / NDPB commented: "The move from a very clearly defined set of circumstances which previously established what a supported business was to the looser definition above could both advantage and disadvantage people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010." While the NHS bodies welcomed a wider definition, they and the other respondent felt that a fuller Equality Impact Assessment was needed.
A representative body from the third / equality sector voiced concerns in respect of proposals on 'A potential supplier's conduct in business', and in particular any possible exclusion of businesses which supply "Jewish faith related goods and services, for example, kosher foods". This respondent was concerned over the legality and impact of wording relating to "assets in illegal settlements' as this would exclude any business active in Israel or the Gaza Strip. They added: "In this regard we also wonder about the relevance of the application of the associated (partial) Equality Impact Assessment".
A third / equality sector organisation asked for additional information regarding public bodies 'opting out' of Community Benefit Clauses. They said: "Equality and access are factors to be considered across every area of society and any exemption from Community Benefit Clauses should have appropriate supporting evidence (eg. EqIA, direct engagement with equality based organisations)".
Comments on Business Regulatory Impact Assessment (BRIA)
Three respondents commented on the Business Regulatory Impact Assessment.
One executive body / NDPB, while supportive of reform, felt that the proposals would increase the costs and burden on contracting authorities adding: "The Business & Regulatory Impact Assessment indicates that the costs to individual authorities will be minimal. There does not appear to be any evidence to substantiate this claim and we are concerned that the implementation of new rules and regulations will add more costs than envisaged."
A local authority commented on the need to assess the impact of the Concessions Directive saying: "While the UK Government is of the view that this will have limited impact, the European Commission's own official Impact Assessment estimates that there are 8,000 PPPs in the UK liable to be regarded as 'concessions' as defined in the new Directive". They asked the Scottish Government to assess whether PPPs and PFI need to be modified to comply with the Concessions Directive.
One statutory body commented on the need to take account of the costs of evidencing Community Benefit; they felt that this could have an added administration cost which would then be passed on from contractors to the purchasing body.
Comments on the Living Wage
Thirty-four respondents commented on the Living Wage in various answers to the consultation questions and, in addition, five of these respondents commented on the Living Wage in their supplementary information. The main theme from these responses, from an organisation from the third / equality group along with three union respondents, was support for businesses that do not pay the minimum wage to be excluded from public contracts. There were also calls for "a duty on public bodies to ensure that all contracted staff are paid at least the Living Wage" (third / equality). A representative body for the third / equality sector welcomed the fact that procurement will be used to tackle poverty and inequalities and commented that in a move away from 'lowest cost' procurement, the Living Wage is one tool that can help to bring about social equality.
In addition, seven respondents (from the union and third / equality groups) voiced their support for the '10 asks' on procurement; a set of priorities produced by a group of civil society coalitions that call for a 'strong, healthy and just society, living within climate limits.' These 'asks' include the Living Wage and, in full, call for action in the following priority areas:
- Sustainable and ethical intent.
- A strong healthy and just society.
- Reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Person-centred procurement.
- Scottish living wage.
- Blacklisting / umbrella companies.
- Employment standards.
- Tax dodging.
- Ethical and fair trade.
- Promoting positive social outcomes.
Forty-six responses included other comments. These were predominantly background information on the respondent's organisation or supplementary information or documents in support of a respondent's views.
There were comments that some questions were difficult to answer; for example where a yes or no answer was sought to a question with multiple parts, or where a question included a negative (for example 'We believe that contracts should not be awarded on the basis of price or cost alone? Do you agree or disagree?') In some cases, respondents felt more detail was needed before they could reply.
Several respondents voiced their thanks for being invited to respond or welcomed the consultation, there was also some welcome for the use of plain English throughout the document.
Email: Graeme Beale
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