What has the election to do with procurement?
The answer is, in fact, a great deal. The UK public sector has enormous purchasing power – it spends a massive £200 billion per year on buying in goods and services.
The result of the election will determine not only just what will be bought – weaponry or social care, for example. But also how goods and services will be procured. For example, if the Labour Party has its way only organisations meeting the following strict criteria will be allowed to bid for public sector work:
- Give full trade union recognition for their workforce and comply with collective bargaining agreements.
- Move towards a ratio of 20-1 between the lowest and highest paid, matching the target in the public sector, over a transitional period.
- Pay their suppliers the full amount owed within 30 days.
- Maintain high environmental standards in relation to energy use, emissions and waste disposal, while taking appropriate measures to aid the transition to a low carbon economy
- Provide training and apprenticeship opportunities proportionate to firm size
- Full tax compliance
- Adopt best practices in equal opportunities
Just on the point of payment alone, it is estimated that around £45 billion is owed by larger organisations to smaller ones in late payments. The government has already cleaned up its own act, and one of the joys of working with the public sector is that you know you will get paid, and within 30 days too.
Mind you, the Conservatives are no strangers to procurement issues, and in 2015 sponsored the Modern Slavery Act. This has a transparency in supply chains provision that requires any business that has a global turnover of £36 million or more and supplies goods or services in the UK will have to produce and publish an annual slavery and trafficking statement in a “prominent” place on its website every year. The statement must set out what steps the organisation has taken to ensure there is no slavery in any part of its business, including its supply chains.