Cabinet Secretary Francis Maude has spoken about plans to cut red tape in public sector procurement: “The public sector in this country spends a huge amount of money in buying in goods and services from outside, something like £230bn a year, and we don’t do it very well, frankly. We follow the European law extremely literally, and they have very legalistic processes. We have very big contracts, and we get the worst of both worlds at the moment. We don’t buy very well, we exclude a lot of competitive, innovative suppliers who will tend to be UK-based, so neither do we get good value for the taxpayer, neither do we spend the money particularly well, nor do we actually support UK businesses.”
The value of public contracts awarded to foreign suppliers is 3% in the UK Vs. 1.9% in Germany and 1.5% in France: “The difference is the governments of these countries work closely with their domestic firms so they are geared up to win contracts at home and abroad. Whereas in Britain, by over-interpreting EU law and over-reacting to fears of bias in favour of British suppliers, we take an almost deliberately short-sighted approach to working with business.”
Anything to simplify tendering and to help UK businesses would be welcomed so let’s hope something comes of this.