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16 April 2011 | Angeline Albert
Alex Salmond has pledged to introduce a sustainable procurement bill to support the wider use of social and environmental benefit clauses in public sector contracts.
Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) made his promise in the SNP’s manifesto published on 14 April, to highlight what his party would do if the country’s 5 May general election put them back in power.
In 2008, the SNP government issued guidelines on the use of community benefit clauses in contracts but now it wants a bill to develop this approach across the wider public sector.
The manifesto also highlighted the challenges and the savings planned by Salmond’s party. He said: “We are faced with a period of unprecedented Westminster budget cuts as a result of the reduction in Scotland’s block grant - a reduction of £1.3 billion in the year ahead. And up to 2014-15 we will see spending reductions of more than 11 per cent in real terms, with a 36 per cent cut in our capital budget over the same period.”
He added: “Smarter procurement will deliver savings of £61 million within the Scottish government in 2011-12 and £400 million over the next three years.”
Salmond said e-procurement is also achieving cost reductions, with three online auctions creating savings of around £27 million. He said the SNP’s work to bring together public sector energy bills into one national contract is saving £10 million each year.
Meanwhile, in a bid to win votes in Scotland’s general election, the Scottish Labour Party’s manifesto has pledged to include in public sector contracts a new Scottish living wage clause of at least £7.15 an hour for workers. The party will also put an end to e-auctions for social care contracts.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats promise to discourage bundling multiple projects into a single contract unless it can be shown that this will not disadvantage Scottish businesses.
They also pledge to expand a supplier development programme, currently operating in Glasgow and Tayside, that helps small and medium businesses win public contracts. In addition, the party says it will ensure the public sector produces data on the proportion of their procurement spend at a local level and publish reasons for their service contracts decisions.
The Scottish Conservatives’ manifesto aims to ensure 25 per cent of public sector contracts are awarded to SMEs. It will also encourage procurement of local food across the public sector.
The manifesto of the Scottish Green Party will be out on Tuesday.