Scottish procurement: policy manual

Guidance on the procurement policies that apply to the Scottish Government.

Sustainable procurement

The Scottish Government is committed to buying goods, services and works in a sustainable manner. Sustainable public procurement aims to make better use of public money, helping us to achieve our overarching purpose and strategic objectives.

The Scottish Government will derive the greatest benefits through ensuring that sustainability is embedded and proportionately applied to all its procurement decisions and activities.

The Sustainable Procurement Duty requires that, before a contracting authority carries out a Regulated Procurement, it must consider how it can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of the area in which it operates, and in carrying out the procurement, to act with a view to securing improvements so identified. The duty also requires contracting authorities to consider how their procurement process can facilitate the involvement of SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses, and how the procurement can be used to promote innovation.

Information on sustainable procurement policies can be found on the Public sector procurement policy webpage.

Guidance and support are available, which includes statutory guidance on the Sustainable Procurement Duty and the Sustainable procurement tools (these tools include e-Learning, Guidance and Case Studies), as well as the guidance on measuring social impact in public procurement in SPPN 10/2020.

This suite of support can help identify and address opportunities to optimise the economic, social and environmental outcomes of procurement activities, and can help meet procurement obligations in the following areas:


The Scottish Government is committed to advancing equality through public procurement. For more information on Equality and procurement, including the Fairer Scotland Duty, please see the relevant public sector procurement policy webpage.

Human rights

Those we contract with should take a robust approach to human rights in any part of their business including their supply chain.

Guidance has been published for contracting authorities on reducing the risk of human trafficking and exploitation in the performance of public contracts (SPPN 3/2020).

Fair Work First (FWF)

Fair work is central to achieving the Scottish Government’s priority for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. FWF is the Scottish Government’s policy for driving high quality and fair work across the labour market in Scotland.

For more information on FWF procurement policy, please see the Fair work and procurement webpage.

Community benefits

Community Benefits are enshrined in the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 through a specific provision to consider their use for all contracts of £4 million or more. Community Benefits in public procurement contribute towards achieving the aims of the Sustainable Procurement Duty and should therefore be considered for contracts valued lower than £4 million, wherever relevant and proportionate.

For more information on Community Benefits policy, please see the Community Benefits in procurement webpage.

Climate change

The Scottish Government is committed to using public procurement to contribute towards the strategic priority of transitioning to a more resource efficient, lower carbon economy. Procurement Officers and DPOs have a responsibility to be climate literate and to understand how contracting activities can support net-zero aspirations throughout the contract duration and must undertake Mandatory Climate Literacy e-Learning.

Help and support in addressing climate change through procurement is available in SPPN 3/2022. For more information on climate change and procurement policy, please see the Procurement and Climate Change webpage.

SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses

The Sustainable Procurement Duty places an obligation on contracting authorities to consider how procurement processes can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of their area, and facilitate the involvement of SMEs, third sector bodies and supported businesses. Procurement Officers and DPOs must be mindful of this Duty when creating their commodity / service strategy.

In line with principles of equal treatment and proportionality and the general duty in section 8(1) of the Act, it is Scottish Government policy that the costs associated with submitting a bid be kept to a minimum, and barriers to participation by small firms, the self-employed and the third sector should be removed where possible.

In order to help facilitate access to public contracts, simplicity is key, and it is important to consider all available mechanisms to encourage participation by smaller businesses, including micro-businesses. These mechanisms include simplifying specifications, breaking larger requirements into smaller requirements (lotting), the use of Quick Quotes, and the creation and advertising of subcontracting opportunities. For advice on how to apply these mechanisms, please see:

  • SPPN 9/2020 - supply chain resilience and diversity
  • SPPN 5/2019 - advertising subcontracting opportunities on PCS
  • SPPN 4/2017 - reserving contracts for supported businesses
  • Section 3.5 of the Statutory Guidance - facilitating the involvement of SMEs, the third sector and supported businesses


Public procurement has a key role to play in enabling innovative goods, works and services. The Sustainable Procurement Duty requires contracting authorities to consider how to promote innovation in their Regulated Procurements.

PCS has innovation notices to help Procurement Officers and DPOs engage with the market as well as procure research and development contracts and provide reporting on innovation. The Procurement Journey and SPPN 3/2023 have more information on how to consider research and development and how to procure innovative solutions / goods.



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