5. Sustainable procurement and our approach to engaging SMEs, the third sector and supported businesses
We use the power of procurement to deliver outcomes that are good for businesses and employees; good for place and communities and good for society. This includes improving access to public contracts for SMEs, the third sector and Supported Businesses and implementing low carbon solutions and waste reduction strategies where appropriate.
We continue to develop our procurement strategies to make our contracts more accessible and provide opportunities for SMEs to tender, win and deliver public sector contracts. As a result, in our collaborative procurements we consider splitting up larger value contracts and frameworks into specialist or geographical requirements. We also consider placing multi-supplier frameworks in order to create other supply chain opportunities wherever possible. We also actively seek out opportunities for SMEs, third sector and supported businesses to compete within our supply chains. Our approach enhances the opportunities for smaller firms that otherwise might not be able to bid.
For example, we published an SPPN asking public bodies to encourage the use of PCS by their prime contractors to offer more opportunities for local suppliers including SMEs, the third sector and supported businesses to win contracts within the supply chain of a public contract.
As a direct result of Scottish Government procurement activity:
- 61% of the 295 suppliers delivering our regulated contracts during the reporting period were SMEs; and
- 663 SME sub-contractors are based in Scotland and won work in our supply chain worth £30 million.
To help SME and third sector organisations who wish to tender for public sector contracts, we continue to provide funding to the Supplier Development Programme which assists businesses to become tender ready for public procurement and improve their prospects of success when competing for public sector contracts.
The Third Sector
We deliver support to individual third sector organisations tendering for contracts. This includes training in how to get ready to tender, and tender writing through the recently re-let Business Support for Third Sector contract, delivered once again by Just Enterprise. It is a comprehensive programme of tailored business support, from start-up, sustainability to scaling up and winning contracts.
We continue to fund the Partnership for Procurement, a programme that provides a range of support specifically to third sector organisations wishing to form consortia to bid for public sector contracts. The Partnership for Procurement website hosts the Ready for Business Register of social enterprises, which offers buyers the ability to search for organisations that identify as supported businesses by geographical location. We ensure that all national collaborative frameworks are available for use by third sector organisations.
Supplier Development Programme
We continue to provide funding and support to the Supplier Development Programme, an independent business initiative that provides free training, online resources and guidance for SMEs and third sector on how to prepare public procurement bids. This includes training on how to write tenders and improve bid scores, use of the SG provided eProcurement and Tendering Platforms (PCS and PCS-Tender) and understanding frameworks, community benefits and sustainable procurement.
In the financial year 2019/2020, over 1,600 unique businesses attended SDP training courses. Of those that responded to surveys, 88% said they were more likely to bid for future public contracts as a direct result of the training they received. In the same year, the Supplier Development Programme also supported 40 public sector partner training events, linking over 700 unique businesses to up and coming contracts.
During the period, the National Water & Waste Water Billing Services framework with Anglian Water Business (National) Ltd finished. As well as supplying water and waste water services, it also concluded a four year programme to deliver water efficiency savings to the Scottish public sector and third sector organisations.
Over the four year period, Anglian’s ‘Active Water Management’ programme delivered £5.5 million efficiency savings through leak detection, water efficiency measures and meter downsizing. Overall, this has saved approximately 2,400,000 m3 of water, for various bodies including NHS, Councils and Further and Higher Education establishments.
Since March 2019, Social Security Scotland has awarded three orders totalling £460,000 with the two furniture suppliers on the supported business framework, Dovetail Enterprises Ltd and City Building LLP. In March 2020, a £50,000 contract was also placed with the signage supplier from this framework, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.
It is anticipated that the Agency will continue to grow to circa 2,000 staff across its main sites in Dundee and Glasgow, with a number of staff also working remotely. To facilitate this growth, the Agency is committed to using the Supported Business Collaborative Framework, commencing a tender exercise through it to establish a two year contract for the provision of Office Furniture and Associated Products with an estimated value of £2 million.
Climate and procurement
In April 2019, the First Minister declared a Climate Emergency. Environmental considerations are already at the heart of our sustainable procurement duty but there is much we can and need to do to make use of the provisions in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and ensure that these considerations specifically address climate change and circular economy obligations. The Procurement and Climate Change Forum has been established to review, with representative bodies of key sectors, how we can mobilise the £12 billion of annual public procurement spend to support our climate emergency response.
We agree that we need to continue to do whatever we can to influence our suppliers and supply chains to reduce emissions and waste, with a particular focus on manufacturing and packaging processes, transport and logistics (scope 3). We must also consider more carefully what and how we buy. The Forum was in its early stages during the reporting period, setting out its scope to identify and commission targeted activities that would help influence and empower our buyer, supplier and key stakeholder communities to make the best use of public procurement in tackling the Climate Emergency.
Examples of where we have already considered and applied solutions that will have a positive environmental impact include the following:
ICT Hardware Frameworks
We were once again announced among the winners at the Green Electronics Council’s, annual EPEAT Purchaser Awards.
The award recognises the excellence and leadership our collaborative ICT Team provide in the procurement of sustainable IT products which reduce environmental impact across their lifecycle.
EPEAT-accredited devices are more energy efficient, less toxic, longer lasting, and easier to recycle than products that do not meet EPEAT eco-label standards, while also addressing labour and human rights issues along the entire supply chain.
The Green Electronics Council estimate that, over their lifetime, IT products purchased through Scottish Procurement frameworks in 2019 will result in a number of environmental benefits. These include:
- Savings of 64,230 MWh of electricity (equivalent to the average annual electricity consumption of over 22,000 UK households)
- A reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 40,978 metric tons of CO2 equivalents (equal to taking almost 14,000 cars off UK roads for a year)
- A reduction of 165 metric tons in hazardous waste and 22,871 metric tons of primary materials
Our success in the global EPEAT awards programme is recognition of our continued determination to deliver the highest levels of sustainability and environmental benefits to the Scottish public sector.
The Scottish Government, in partnership with HP Inc. UK, our framework supplier of laptop and desktop computers, and their Scottish SME service partner Capito, made a donation of 1,000 PCs to the Turing Trust. The Trust was co-founded by James Turing in honour of his great uncle, the World War II codebreaker Alan Turing and works to improve digital literacy in sub-Saharan Africa.
The computers, which were no longer suitable for corporate use, were serviced and securely cleansed of data before being taken to Malawi for use by students and trainee teachers.
The donation of 1,000 PCs will help about 18,000 students to learn vital IT skills. Beyond this, the environmental impact from the donation will offset 280 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of planting 700 trees.