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04/10/13 09:45

Public contracts

Rule change to help Scottish firms.

Changes to public procurement rules will make it easier for small Scottish businesses to bid for public contracts, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The Procurement Reform Bill proposes new laws designed to improve the way the public sector buys goods, works and services.

The Bill proposes the substantial expansion of the use of community-benefit clauses in higher value contracts, helping to promote training, apprenticeships and opportunities for disabled people and long-term unemployed.

The Bill will also bring benefits to the business community by making it easier to access public sector contracts and by ensuring that public sector procedures and practices are transparent and proportionate and readily accessible, especially for SMEs and the third sector.

The Bill will include enabling powers to make regulations concerning how Scottish public bodies assess the suitability of companies to bid for public contracts, which will help to address improper and unacceptable practices like blacklisting.

Other statutory guidance will encourage good employment practices by allowing a company’s approach to workforce-related matters to be considered when assessing the suitability of a company to bid for public sector contracts.

This will mean that purchasers can consider, where relevant to the performance of the contract, whether matters such as inappropriate use of zero hours contracts or levels of remuneration may affect the quality of service that a company is likely to provide.

Ms Sturgeon said:

“Changes to public procurement rules will ensure Scotland retains its place as a world leader in public procurement reform, promoting an approach that is both business friendly and socially responsible.

“This Bill will provide a national legislative framework for sustainable public procurement, ensuring that we maximise the economic benefit brought to Scotland from effective and efficient public procurement spend.

“This Bill will also make it easier for the public sector to buy goods and services, helping to boost our economy and get people into work.

“Scotland has one of highest levels of public procurement spend on SMEs in the EU. The Bill will build on and secure that success and continue to make it easier for SMEs to find and compete for public sector contracts.”

Notes to editors

The Procurement Reform Bill is available at:

http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/68170.aspx