Public Procurement and Property

‘Collaboration is key’ to delivering shared outcomes

December 2, 2021 by 2 Comments | Category Fair Work, Guest Blog, net zero, Procurement news, Scottish Procurement, Social Enterprises

Scottish Procurement are delighted to welcome a guest blog from BSA Scotland Chair, Ian Gibson as he reflects on recent meetings with Scottish Government representatives, including an online roundtable with Nick Ford, Director of Scottish Procurement and Property.

As suppliers approach the end of a busy year, recent discussions with government can be summed up in one word:  collaboration.  What that means in slightly more detail is ‘the importance of equitable partnership working to achieve shared outcomes’.

  • The importance of outcomes: that’s what the National Performance Framework guides everyone towards – wellbeing, reducing inequalities, and growth which is both truly inclusive and sustainable.
  • The importance of equity: that’s what is wanted and needed as we rebuild from COVID.
  • And the importance of partnership: we’re all going to need to pull together if we are to achieve these aims – genuine collaboration between public, private and Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) organisations, large and small.

Embedding procurement reform across the public sector is a central part of that.  So is a collaborative and constructive approach, in which goals are understood and aligned between partners and outcomes shared.

We’ve welcomed the publication of clear pipelines of work by the Scottish Futures Trust and others, so businesses and the voluntary sector can plan ahead on training and investment.  Members have also welcomed examples of genuine collaboration and early engagement, so ideas on innovation or social benefits can be shared.

And it’s welcome whenever strategic leadership teams, procurement teams and policies align, so commissioning decisions are driven by value and by local priorities – not simply by lowest cost. But this is a two-way process.  For equitable partnership working to achieve shared outcomes, suppliers too must play their part.

Here are four examples:

First, Fair Work. 

As well as seeking to drive forward equity, the benefits of SPPN 6/2021 are clarity and a level playing field.  If businesses and VCSE organisations know there is a requirement to pay the Real Living Wage, alongside implementing other Fair Work criteria, they can have confidence that in doing so they won’t be undercut in the bidding stage by those who do not.

Second, Just Transition. 

COP26 highlighted the importance of making sure future growth is sustainable as well as inclusive.  SPPN1/2021 too was welcome, but in many ways we are at the foothills of what can be achieved through partnership working on Net Zero.  We’ve published case studies of members, operating in Scotland and the rest of the UK, who are working in partnership with the public and private sectors alike on the path to Net Zero.  They also demonstrate the role and responsibility larger organisations have in supporting SMEs in their supply chains down that path.

Third, supporting Place. 

COVID-19 has highlighted both our interconnectedness and the distinct needs of individual communities – because a global virus has nevertheless affected different communities very differently.  As suppliers look to leave a lasting legacy from service and infrastructure provision, that legacy must be driven by the priorities of the communities themselves.  That’s why suppliers large and small need to embed themselves in communities, and why procurement priorities must be driven by the needs of the community concerned.

Community Wealth Building must involve all stakeholders pulling together – including equitable partnership working between larger companies and SMEs in their supply chains, building up those SMEs and supply chain resilience in the process.  Ultimately communities are about people, and employers also need to work in partnership identifying local skills gaps and demands and supporting training programmes.

Finally, the Future of Work. 

How can we use new hybrid ways of working to make work more inclusive and equitable?  How do we use the opportunity of more remote working to enable a wider group of people to access those jobs which can be done remotely?  How do we achieve better work-life balance?  And how do we aim for equity between those roles which can be done from home and which cannot?  Employers have a central role to play here. So too have Place Leaders, in linking the needs of their communities, through procurement policies, to jobs and training and digital provision.

If 2022 is going to be the year of inclusive and sustainable rebuilding, it will need to be even busier than 2021.  And the importance of collaboration even greater.

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  • Professor Rudi Klein says:

    Fully supportive of the message but what are we doing to track progress on the ground so that construction SMEs face a brighter future without being the recurrent recipients of risk dumping

    • Ray Knox says:

      Thank you for your comment. Our guidance highlights that where frameworks are used, contracting authorities should ensure that SMEs are not disadvantaged or prevented from participating in frameworks by the way in which they are set up. Further guidance here also provides a list of organisations who can provide assistance to SMEs in competing for public contracts.

      Additionally, in spring 2022, the Scottish Government is due to formally initiate the procurement process for the National Civil Engineering Framework. It will have a mixture of national and regional lots (from up to £80m down to below £1m), and limit the number of lots contractors can be successful on.
      One of the aims is for SMEs to target the medium to lower lots, allowing them to contract direct with framework public bodies – under a Scottish Government framework – with no dependency on Tier 1 contractors. In terms of risk and risk allocation, this is an area that the Civils Steering Group are keen to review for the forthcoming Framework.

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