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Countdown to the 2015 General Election – Procurement in the manifestos

Posted by Gemma Waring on April 20, 2015

With suppliers and buyers already busy understanding and implementing the 2015 Procurement Regulations they may find that the landscape shifts again after the general election in May. While the new regulations will stay in force and are unlikely to change with a new government, its important to understand what each of the main parties are saying about procurement and how that might impact the sector in the coming years.

Obviously wider policy initiatives such as NHS spending, defence projects and education reforms will have an impact on procurement but here is what each party has said in their manifesto about specific procurement policies (i.e. how they will change how procurement is conducted):

Conservatives

  • Will raise the target for SME’s involvement in procurement raising their share of central government procurement from 25% to 33%.

Labour

  • Will set up a Small Business Administration that will ensure procurement contracts are accessible and regulations are designed with small firms in mind,
  • Use government procurement to promote the living wage, and
  • In partnership with industry, put accountability, value for money, interoperability and sustainability at the centre of defence procurement.

 

Liberal Democrats

  • Will use central government public procurement policy “as a tool of local growth”,
  • Open up public procurement to SMEs and the voluntary sector, and
  • Develop feedback platforms.

 

UKIP

  • Have promised the removal of the EU Procurement Directive as part of their exit from the EU and claim in reference to overseas aide programmes that any programmes will be offered to British companies first.

 

Plaid Cymru

  • Will develop a Centre of Excellence for infrastructure procurement and delivery in Wales,
  • Give back control of local housing procurement to Welsh local authorities, and
  • Increase the procurement of Welsh produce in Wales through the Welsh contracts for Welsh companies scheme.

 

Both the Green Party and the SNP have no specific reference to procurement in their manifestos.

 

So, as ever with manifestos, there is very little detail of how the aims will be achieved in practice. All three of the main parties mention the involvement of SMEs which is encouraging as this is seen by many as the main route to economic recovery and growth but how this will be achieved especially in light of some of the changes to the procurement regulations remains to be seen.

UKIPs removal of the EU Directive and presumably the resulting 2015 Regulations leaves a massive gap to be filled and without any sight of a plan to both design and implement an alternative system to manage the mechanics of public sector procurement it’s hard to imagine what impact this will have but it is difficult to see a positive outcome.

Plaid Cymru have clearly defined policies to support the local economy and UKIP also mention offering work to British companies first – could this be the way to support economic growth or will it simply alienate the countries around the world that we have strong trade and investment relationships with?

Overall it seems that procurement is not being given the attention is deserves in this election’s manifestos.

Reducing public spending has long been a hot topic of conversation but while the main parties talk of cutting areas such as local services and welfare payments (which often have a huge impact on some of the most vulnerable members of society) there seems to be very little talk of addressing procurement issues.  It is hard to understand why areas such as welfare payments  are easy targets for cuts when a review and reform of the way in which the UK runs its public sector procurement could unearth numerous inefficiencies that could be addressed and as a result, reduce spending cross the board without impacting front line services.

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