Changes to public procurement rules will make it easier for small Scottish businesses to bid for public contracts, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Benefits to the business community of The Procurement Reform (Scotland) Bill - introduced on October 3, 2013 in the Scottish Parliament - are seen as improving access to public sector contracts and ensuring the transparency and proportionality of public sector procedures and practices, especially for SMEs and the third sector.
Here, Chamber member Gill Joy a director of Intend Business Development Ltd - the only company in Scotland offering public sector contract bid support locally, nationally and internationally - unpacks what it means for businesses in Scotland.
\'The new Bill heralds further measures to help small and medium sized businesses, identify and bid more easily for public sector contracts,” says Gill.
\'Included in the Bill is a requirement for all contracts valued over £50,000 (for goods and services) or over £2,000,000, for works, to be published on the Public Contracts Scotland portal by all buying authorities along with a ‘contracts register\' summarising current contracts in place and their renewal dates for all buying authorities. A new sustainable procurement obligation has been introduced for contracting authorities requiring them to consider how in conducting the procurement process it can improve the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the authority\'s area, facilitate the involvement of small and medium enterprises, third sector bodies and supported businesses in the process, and promote innovation.\'
So far so encouraging, but what of that elephant in the public sector room, getting paid on time?
Says Gill: \'For many companies working on public contracts, receiving timely payment of invoices can be a problem.The new Reform Bill requires buyers to set out publicly how they intend to ensure that, so far as reasonably practicable, payments are made no later than 30 days after the invoice throughout the supply chain.\'
In Scotland, Intend has worked with businesses in all sectors to improve their performance in bidding for public sector contracts since 2008. However it\'s worth noting that during that time the company has also built up an impressive European portfolio. Contracts worth many billions of euros are put out to tender every day by public sector organisations across the continent. Gill\'s partner, Joeke Abbing is based in the Netherlands and deals on the spot with much of the company\'s European market.
Intend\'s St Andrews-based UK team has also chalked up an impressive record of successes, helping smaller firms win public contracts - often in the face of competition from larger national firms. Its client base is broad. Recent contract wins include those in the security, cleaning, removals, schools and office equipment sectors, employability services, renewables, construction and business support services…
Intend is currently working with economic development teams and Business Gateways across Scotland to provide tendering help to local SMEs and social enterprises through surgeries and one-to-one consultancy support and the company also provides training via the Scottish Government\'s Supplier Development Programme\'.
“The Scottish Government has taken a lead in procurement reform and tools like ‘Public Contracts Scotland\' (the national advertising website for Scottish public sector organisations) and ‘Quick Quotes\' (an online quotation facility) have been instrumental in opening up the market to many small businesses who would not previously have been able to bid,” says Gill. \"However, the detailed documentation and the deadlines for bids can often be daunting and that\'s where we can help.
“The new Reform Bill provides further steps to make the public procurement process more transparent and SME-friendly and we will be working with our clients to help them make the most of the new regulations.”
More information on Intend Business Development Ltd can be found at http://www.intend-eu.com
The Procurement Reform Bill is available at: