Equality role for buyers

30 November 2009

1 December 2009 | Allie Anderson

Public sector buyers in the UK could be forced to consider the ethnicity and gender of staff at companies bidding on contracts if legislation put before parliament is passed.

The Equality Bill, announced in the Queen’s speech last month, aims to use the £200 billion of public procurement “to drive equality in the private sector”. If it progresses, awarding public sector deals could come down to which of two competing firms submitting similar bids employs more women and members of minority groups.

Also announced was the Energy Bill, aimed at strengthening the UK’s development of clean coal technologies and drive towards becoming a lower carbon nation. It could bring up to £4 billion a year into the UK economy and support between 30,000 and 60,000 jobs in areas including procurement, largely from the implementation of carbon capture and storage technology to reduce CO2 from power stations.

The government is also set to replace the current “fragmented” rules on anti-competitive activity as the Bribery Bill came a step closer to becoming law. The legislation is likely to come into force early next year, which will make it illegal to receive or accept kickbacks in the UK and abroad. It will also make it an offence if firms fail to prevent bribery.

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