The public sector spends around £11 billion a year buying goods, services and works. This means that public procurement is significant in helping to support inclusive growth.
The Scottish specific duties include an explicit procurement duty which applies to public authorities listed in the Schedule to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012 and which meet the definition of a "contracting authority" in the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015 ( PC(S)R 2015). The procurement duty applies when an authority proposes to enter into a public contract or a framework agreement that is regulated by PC(S)R 2015 i.e. procurements with a value in excess of the EU contract threshold (around £106k for central government and Health; £164k for local authorities when procuring goods and services).
PC(S)R 2015 says that technical specifications shall, except in duly justified cases, be drawn up so as to take into account accessibility criteria for disabled people or design for all users, and where mandatory accessibility requirements are adopted by a legal act of the Union, technical specifications shall, as far as accessibility criteria for disabled people or design for all users are concerned, be defined by reference thereto.
1. We continue to work with the Equality and Human Rights Commission ( EHRC), and a number of other public bodies on the inclusion of equality and human rights-focused criteria within procurement exercises. This builds on previous work with EHRC which saw guidance published for the wider public sector in 2014 on the public sector equality duty and procurement, including examples of good practice in Scotland;
2. We continue to work with Scottish Fair Trade Forum ( SFTF) to increase public sector knowledge and uptake of fairly and ethically traded goods and services in public procurement. An event was run by SFTF and the British Medical Association ( BMA) in 2016 to encourage buyers to think about how they can build ethical & fair Trade into their procurements;
3. A national reserved Framework Agreement was established in 2012, which covers four product groups: textiles and personal protection equipment; document management; furniture and associated products; and signage. The framework provides all Scottish public bodies with an easier route to contracts with selected supported businesses. Work is currently on going to determine the appropriate course of action on the expiration of the framework agreement. The Scottish Government is in discussions with stakeholders on how we best facilitate market access for supported businesses in line with the changed definition under the European procurement legislation and taking account of the legislative requirements within the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 (the Act).
The Act provides a national legislative framework for sustainable public procurement that supports Scotland's economic growth through improved procurement practice. The Act complements the requirements laid out in the Equality Act 2010 to further advance equality through procurement strategy and process. The majority of provisions of the Act came into force from 18 April 2016. Scottish Ministers published a suite of statutory guidance in March 2016 providing advice on what a contracting authority should do to comply with the Act. The Statutory guidance covers: procurement strategies and annual procurement reports; sustainable procurement duty; community benefit requirements in procurement; selection of tenderers and award of contracts; procurement for health or social care services; and Addressing Fair Work Practices, including the Living Wage (published in November 2015). The Act requires:
1. A contracting authority to consider how, by the way in which it conducts the procurement process, it might improve economic, social and environmental well-being; facilitate the involvement of small and medium enterprises, third sector bodies and supported business; and promote innovation. There is a requirement for 'well-being' to include reducing inequality (this provision came into force on 1st June 2016). By applying the sustainable procurement duty we have identified equality as central to some forthcoming projects (More Powers and Interpreting Services as per the Procurement Strategy) and we will be working with EHRC to maximise equality outcomes in these;
2. Any contracting authority that spends £5 million or more in any financial year to have a procurement strategy that sets out how it intends to carry out procurements regulated by the Act, and produce an annual procurement report. Statutory guidance was published relating to the strategy and annual report that cross references equality reporting duties. Scottish Government's strategy was published in December 2016;
3. Statutory guidance under the Act was also published on 5 October 2015, providing guidance to public bodies on how to address Fair Work Practices, including the Living Wage, when selecting tenderers and awarding contracts. Contracting authorities must have regard to this guidance when selecting suppliers to participate in a procurement process.
Email: Nicole Ronald, Mainstreamingequality@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House