SELECT has called on the Scottish Government to adopt the new measures announced at Westminster which are designed to encourage small businesses to apply for government contracts and to ensure that there is a mechanism to punish contractors who don’t pay their suppliers on time.
While accepting that Holyrood has made some progress on public sector procurement, SELECT argues that following the tough new changes promised south of the border would help SMEs if also implemented in Scotland.
At the root of the UK proposals is the potential exclusion of suppliers from major procurement contracts if they cannot demonstrate fair and effective payment practices with their subcontractors. This ‘yellow card/red card’ protocol has worked effectively in Northern Ireland for a number of years.
SELECT has campaigned vigorously for several years on payment practices in Scotland and has contributed to procurement reform in the public sector, which buys £10bn of goods, works and services each year.
Newell McGuiness, SELECT managing director, said, “The Westminster measures have very worthwhile aims – ensuring that smaller firms are given a fair opportunity to supply goods and services to the public sector.
“Public sector procurement is a huge market in Scotland and it must not only be transparent but it should be open for as many businesses as possible to compete in a robust but fair environment.”
SELECT is being backed by the Specialist Engineering Contractors (SEC) Group Scotland, which has contacted Paul Wheelhouse, the minister for business, innovation and energy, to push the case for these changes.
The UK measures allow sub-contractors greater access to buying authorities to report poor payment performance and suppliers must provide the government with data showing how businesses in their supply chain are benefiting from their contracts with central government.
The Prime Minister has also written to members of her Cabinet to nominate a small business champion minister in each department to ensure that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are given a fair opportunity.