The Welsh Government has approved measures to simplify public procurement and increase opportunities for smaller contractors.
Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt confirmed that the Welsh Government will adopt all the recommendations contained in John McClelland’s review of Welsh public procurement, and set out nine principles for how the sector should carry out tendering for services, full details of which will be published next week.
These will require public bodies to advertise all contracts over £25,000 on the government’s online procurement portal sell2wales.co.uk, with main contractors encouraged to advertise supply chain opportunities in the same way.
The Welsh public sector will also be required to make higher value contracts more accessible, to pay invoices on time, use more simplified procurement processes and encourage supplier feedback on how well they are working.
Richard Jenkins, the director of The Federation of Master Builders Cymru, backed the move to allow more Welsh building firms to access public-sector contracts, saying: “This is fabulous news for Welsh FMB members. These proposals, if implemented properly and in full, could provide an opportunity to sustain and develop Welsh construction companies at a time when our construction sector is in deep recession.”
“The main focus is on getting a consistent approach to procurement across the entire public sector in Wales, which many in the industry have criticised, and all local authorities have said they will abide by the new strategy,” said Milica Kitson, chief executive of Constructing Excellence Wales, who helped draw up the strategy. “Although there has never been a deliberate attempt to exclude small firms, that has happened in the past because of the way certain frameworks have been put together. Now local authorities understand that frameworks can work for everyone if they are broken down into decent sized lots, which is certainly the intention going forward and this will greatly benefit local businesses.”
John McClelland was commissioned in February by the finance minister to examine the impact of Welsh Government public procurement policy and identify methods to strengthen it. Although he found evidence of significant progress made in recent years, he raised concerns that not every public sector organisation was effectively implementing Welsh Government policy and that some needed to make greater investment in professional procurement skills. In total 28 recommendations were made.