The outcome of June’s in/out referendum could have a significant impact on how procurement is legislated in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Public procurement rules, currently based on EU directives, are a major issue for public sector bodies and suppliers. According to a recent report, public spending in areas such as health and education services amounts to over £10 billion per year. Given this significant expenditure, there has been a growing focus to ensure robust guidelines are in place to ensure procurement is both fair and cost-effective.
A series of reforms have been introduced in Scotland including Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015 and the Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016, incorporating EU rules, which aim to drive up procurement standards to ensure better value for money for the taxpayer. New EU rules on procurement introduced this month have prompted another review of procedures.
Given the current guiding hand of Europe in shaping our rules, a vote to leave the EU could therefore, in principle, lead to major changes in how we manage procurement here.
In the short to medium term, it is likely that both the UK and Scottish governments would leave this legislation largely unchanged and might even choose to adopt any further changes coming from Europe on a voluntary basis.
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