Public procurement in England and Wales is governed by the Public Contract Regulations 2015. However, Scottish public procurement is subject to statutes from the devolved government and, therefore, includes differences in compliance, statutory requirements and company information.
The Procurement Reform Act 2014 is the primary legislation governing Scottish public sector tendering opportunities. Scotland represents a significant market in public procurement, with nearly £5.2 billion in opportunities released during the 2021–22 financial year. It is therefore incumbent on prospective tenderers to be mindful of potential differences or unique challenges prior to commencing the bidding process.
The Single Procurement Document
In 2016, the pre-qualification questionnaire was officially replaced in England and Wales by the standard selection questionnaire (SQ), a standardised document designed by the Crown Commercial Service with the objective of facilitating access to public sector frameworks, contracts and dynamic purchasing systems. In addition to the template, purchasing authorities may also include supplementary questions for prospective suppliers to evidence their suitability.
The Scottish Single Procurement Document (SPD) functions similarly – it is a standardised template meant to enhance ‘ease of use’ and clarify the bidding process, particularly to encourage SMEs to tender for public procurement opportunities. Prior to the UK’s exit from the European Union, it was referred to as the ESPD (European Single Procurement Document), a term still employed by some authorities.
The document is divided into six constituent parts, consisting of:
- Part I: information on the purchasing authority and details of the procurement opportunity, complete with a reference number.
- Part II: generic information concerning the bidder, such as registered address, DUNS number and whether they intend to subcontract any part of the contract.
- Part III: exclusion criteria relating to criminal convictions, insolvency, outstanding taxes or blacklisting.
- Part IV: outlines the selection criteria used for awarding the contract or appointing a framework place. Elements include the tenderer’s suitability, technical and professional capacity, and financial standing.
- Part V: requires a declaration from the bidder confirming they have all documentation and evidence required as part of the contract or framework.
- Part VI: Concluding statements to the opportunity, such as instructions for correct submission and where to affix a date/signature.
Community benefits are aligned closely with social value in English and Welsh procurement. Public authorities in Scotland are required to consider including community benefits as part of procurement regulation for all contracts equal to or greater than £4 million – it is often included in tenders with a lower value as well.
Tenderers are required to outline the social, economic and environmental benefits a contract award will bring the wider community. Typically, this will include offerings and initiatives in the following categories:
- Local employment: Opportunities for the creation of new jobs or apprenticeships in the local area will be looked upon favourably by evaluators. Equally, demonstrating how the contract award will lead to retention of local employment within the local area is another effective method of illustrating potential community benefits.
- Local supply chain: Bidders can commit to allocating a percentage of total contract spend on parts, materials and servicing of equipment with local businesses, recirculating public funds within the region.
- Charitable contributions: Monetary or in-kind donations to third sector organisations or charities, such as a food bank, homeless shelter or mental health charity.
- Volunteering: committing a certain number of days or hours per year for volunteer hours which benefit the local community. This can include public clean-ups such as graffiti removal or litter picking, or planting trees to enhance local green spaces.
Authorities will also require an accurate and rigorous methodology for recording community benefits progress and subsequently reporting them to the council. Demonstrating that a member of your team will be responsible for gathering, collating and submitting evidence on behalf of your organisation will aid in scoring high marks from evaluators.
Fair Work Practice
Similarly, the Procurement Reform Act also includes a statutory requirement for Fair Work First when submitting the quality section of a tender. The requirements are underpinned by the Fair Work Framework, which was signed into law in 2018. The Framework organises its principles around five ‘dimensions’ – security, respect, opportunity, fulfilment and an effective voice for employees.
Suppliers are required to evidence their commitment to Fair Work measures, often in the following ways:
- Fair and equal pay, such as paying employees the Real Living Wage rates, collective bargaining rates, or conducting internal audits to eliminate wage gaps (e.g. by gender or ethnicity)
- Avoiding exploitative employment practices, such as inappropriate or excessive use of zero-hours contracts or other unfavourable systems.
- Supporting workforce engagement by not preventing employees from seeking trade union representation or forming an alternative arrangement, such as staff groups/forums to provide feedback to management.
- Fair payment of subcontractors and supply chain via adherence to the Prompt Payment Code, where all invoices are paid within 30 days of receipt.
The Scottish government hosts a page which outlines examples of Fair Work practice which align with the Framework, including accreditation with relevant bodies such as The Scottish Business Pledge to aid suppliers in substantiating their credentials.
Differences in health and social care
Scotland’s devolved government has also implemented health and social care requirements which diverge from the UK government’s – in many instances, this strengthens the care obligations to service users. This includes:
- Personal care for persons aged 65 and older: The Scottish system mandates that everyone over the age of 65 is entitled to free personal care, regardless of the price or condition of the patient. Examples include helping service users with immobility problems, personal hygiene and toileting, taking medication and general wellbeing.
- Integrated Joint Boards (IJBs): Passed in 2015, IJBs were created with the objective of further integrating health and social care bodies and providers to improve outcomes for service users, carers and their families.
- Post-diagnosis Alzheimer’s support: Scotland is the only nation which has made it a legal obligation for each person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia to receive a minimum of 12 months’ post-diagnostic support.
These differences may impact the opportunities available in addition to shaping statutory requirements when responding to individual quality responses.
If you have identified an opportunity in Scotland and are looking for tender writing support, find out more today on how Executive Compass can assist you with a highly successful submission at 0800 612 5563 or via email email@example.com.
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