The Queen’s Speech 2022 continued from where the Levelling Up agenda left off. Our CEO, Guy Battle, highlights some reasons to be cheerful, and throws in a few words of warning in the process.
2022’s Queen’s Speech was memorable for many things – not least as HRH Prince Charles’ first outing (many congratulations Your Royal Highness!).
The 134 pages of strategy and proposed bills read in parliament covered Levelling Up; women’s health and a UK infrastructure bank. But by far the most important and exciting opportunity for the social value community is laid out on pages 53 & 54: the proposed details of a new Procurement Bill.
The speech discusses several key priorities for procurers. It states the government’s intention to make it easier for small and medium sized organisations and voluntary, community and social enterprises to win work. There is a call for buyers to be more cutthroat and exclude any suppliers who do not deliver from future tenders. And then there is the promise to enshrine in law the principles of delivering value for money, maximising public benefit, and treating suppliers equally.
For me, the last section is crucial. It echoes the government’s Levelling Up agenda, and asks that we consider value beyond solely cost savings.
‘Amounting to around £300 billion, public procurement accounts for around a third of all public expenditure every year. By improving the way public procurement is regulated, the Government can not only save the taxpayer money but drive social, environmental and economic benefits across every part of the UK.’
I was glad to see that the National Procurement Policy Statement (PPN05/21) published in May last year gets a mention too. It requires ‘buyers to have regard to the Government’s strategic priorities for public procurement’.
For anyone who doesn’t have the paper committed to memory, these strategic priorities are:
- creating new businesses, new jobs and new skills
- tackling climate change and reducing waste
- improving supplier diversity, innovation and resilience
This is good news for those who see that social value included within procurement can and does transform the public sector supply chain for the better.
I was pleased to hear the speech issuing a clear call to action for the social value movement in the UK. But we must acknowledge that ‘a simpler and more transparent system’ and reducing red tape, especially for smaller businesses and voluntary organisations, will be our biggest challenge to ensure we deliver real and sustainable good to our communities.
No need to panic right now but nonetheless, it’s important we work together and solve a particularly thorny conundrum. The path is clear, even if there are still a few brambles to clear on the way.