Government contracts should be UK based, says union

17 October 2007
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18 October 2007 | Paul Snell

Trade union Unite is calling on the government to use its procurement process to favour UK businesses.

The manufacturing union claims £42 billion of government spend on manufacturing contracts goes to overseas firms. It adds that if these contracts were awarded to UK companies, it would create half a million jobs in the sector.

The union said 74 per cent of fire, ambulance and police vehicles are procured abroad. It points to defence procurement as an area that has secured jobs in manufacturing and the supply chain through awards to UK firms.

Derek Simpson, joint general secretary of Unite, said in a statement: "We have a first-rate manufacturing sector and first-rate skills - imagine what it could do if it was supported by an intelligent procurement strategy. The government is applying a very narrow definition of procurement, which fails to take into account the economic benefits of awarding key government contracts to UK firms."

The union dismisses arguments that the idea will not work because of EU procurement legislation.

"EU competition rules are not the problem," a spokesperson told "We want the government to consider the social costs and employment benefits to the UK economy when they look at procurement."


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