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Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Kay Sillars k.sillars@unison.co.uk - For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Ten civil society priorities for the Procurement Reform Bill

The Scottish Government’s long-awaited Procurement Reform Bill was published last week – to major disappointment on a number of issues, particularly the Living Wage and sustainability.

UNISON, of course welcomes the fact that blacklisting is highlighted, along with the inappropriate use of zero hours contracts, as examples of practices that could see companies excluded from public sector contracts.
We had campaigned along with the STUC and other unions for action against blacklisting to be included in the Bill. We also wanted to see much stronger measures than are proposed for excluding companies involved in tax dodging.
However, there is widespread disappointment that the Scottish Government has made no mention of the Scottish Living Wage in the Bill or its accompanying documents. The Scottish Government is correctly a Living Wage employer itself, but ensuring contractors pay the Living Wage could make a major difference to tackling low pay, as well as helping local economies.
UNISON, as part of a coalition of coalitions involving the STUC, Enough Food for Everyone If, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Scottish Fair Trade Forum and Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, has ten key asks for the Bill.

In summary, these are that:
As a statement of intent, the Bill should embed sustainable and ethical considerations at the heart of the procurement process. And to provide clarity and focus for the use of the term ‘sustainable procurement’, it should refer to the established definition of sustainable development.
This, already agreed by the Scottish and UK Governments, sets five guiding principles of sustainable development as: living within environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.
The Bill should also include action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and distinguish between the buying of ‘things’ and the buying of ‘services’ so that in social care, for example, we can prevent a ‘race to the cheapest’, which is the wrong way to deliver care for the most vulnerable.
The coalitions’ asks include measures on the Scottish Living Wage, blacklisting, tax dodging, ethical and fair trade, employment standards and promoting positive social outcomes.
UNISON's Bargaining Briefing on the Bill is here.
We are also launching our new Food for Good Charter this week. That will stress the need for fresh, local, healthy and sustainable food in schools and hospitals and other public service catering.
The Charter says that sustainable food procurement should be an explicit objective across public services and procurement policy should recognise the ‘whole life’ cost of food, taking into account costs attributable to health and climate change.
It is incredible that the Procurement Reform Bill’s accompanying documents make no reference to the climate change duties on public bodies, despite the fact that the original proposal, in the SNP manifesto, was for a Sustainable Procurement Bill.
The report last month from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed the need for urgent action by governments. This Bill fails to deliver this on sustainability.

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