The Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce a new Public Sector Sustainability Duty that would “require higher green criteria in public procurement policy”.
In their manifesto, launched today by leader Nick Clegg, the party said it would “use central government public procurement policy as a tool of local growth and community development, for example by purchasing from diverse sources and using local labour, goods and services, and encourage local government to do the same”.
The party said the Public Sector Sustainability Duty would involve “placing requirements on public authorities to act in a sustainable manner”.
The manifesto includes plans to introduce a National Food Strategy to “promote the production and consumption of healthy, sustainable and affordable food”, which would “increase the use of locally and sustainably sourced, healthy and seasonal food, including in public institutions like schools and the NHS”.
The party said it would work to “ensure clear and unambiguous country of origin labelling on meat, meat products, milk and dairy products”, and “allow the [groceries code] adjudicator to use discretion when holding a supermarket responsible for the treatment of suppliers so they can help ensure farmers get a fair price”.
The manifesto pledged to continue supporting SMEs through public procurement and to develop the UK banking sector, in part by “facilitating new entrants, including through public procurement policy”.
The party said it would “develop platforms on which government can provide feedback on its suppliers to help quality providers to grow”.
The Lib Dems said they were “committed to repealing any parts of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 which make NHS services vulnerable to forced privatisation through international agreements on free markets in goods and services”.
“We will end the role of the Competition and Markets Authority in health, making it clear that the needs of patients, fairness and access always come ahead of competition, and that good local NHS services do not have to be put out to tender,” said the manifesto.