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More needs to be done to engage Welsh SMEs in works

The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group Wales has submitted written evidence to the Economy, Infrastructure & Skills Committee inquiry into public procurement in the foundational economy.

Using data provided by Tussell, the SEC Group Wales has revealed that over the past four and a half years Welsh public bodies have awarded 121 construction contracts with a total aggregate value of £1.94bn. Of these, 54 contracts were awarded to firms with a Welsh-registered address.  This was equivalent to 17.1 per cent of the total value.

In its evidence the SEC Group Wales urged public sector construction procurers in Wales to:

  • Contract directly with the engineering trades rather than engage them as sub-contractors under a UK-based outsourcer;
  • Wherever feasible, break up large contracts into smaller lots;
  • Radically transform procurement practices so that all firms involved with construction works are working together to deliver the best outcomes for the public sector and, ultimately, for the taxpayer.

SEC Group Wales believes that these measures can produce savings for the taxpayer of up to 20 per cent.

Speaking on behalf of the Group, its national executive officer, Catherine Griffith-Williams said: “Construction procurement and delivery is riddled with process inefficiencies much of which is engendered by outdated procurement methods and a multitude of fragmented inputs compounded by poor practices such as late payments.”

The SEC Group Wales believes that by engaging more with SMEs in Wales there is a greater likelihood of more being built for the Welsh pound and with improved build quality.

Ms Griffith-Williams added: “We have seen the consequences of using large outsourcers such as Carillion. Using locally-based SMEs delivers greater social value which means more employment opportunities in Wales, more apprenticeships and more business for local suppliers.”

19 September 2019

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