Whilst responding to the Government’s Green Paper “Building Our Industrial Strategy”, Scape, the public sector owned built environment specialist, called for a radical rethink of procurement to unlock social value.
The Green Paper consultation, which ran from January to April 2017, sought responses from a wide variety of industry and business sectors to help the Government develop a long term industrial strategy to improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving innovation.
Scape, whose framework partners include Balfour Beatty, Kier, Willmott Dixon and Carillion, are committed to promoting social, economic and environmental sustainability best practice. Mark Robinson, Scape group chief executive, is calling for a radical rethink and clearer definition of social value, arguing that public sector projects worth over £10 million should be targeted to deliver at least 20% social value. If this were to be implemented, for example, on the major capital infrastructure project HS2, local supply chains and economies could benefit by up to £11.2 billion.
In addition, Robinson is calling for a “By Appointment to HM Government” badge as a mark of quality for contractors to encourage more SMEs to bid for projects. Further, he wants to raise national standards across public sector organisations and frameworks through a national strategy on procurement best practise. He argues that the government has major influence on procurement and so could use it to rebalance the economy and encourage SMEs. With the imminent departure of the UK from the European Union, he states that the time is ideal to review procurement legislation and create a new procurement framework to deliver maximum value for the UK economy and local communities.
Scape uses its own standards as a guide – for example they expect their own prospective partners to submit the most socially responsible and economically advantageous submissions to work with them. Scape’s own frameworks achieve a 50% local spend within 20 miles of 2,400 construction projects, which equates to £1.6 billion for local suppliers. Thus, they argue, the government has an important opportunity with the new Industrial Strategy to create a successful model for public sector procurement which is simple and straightforward, thereby encouraging SMEs to embrace public contracts and drive economic growth.