By Daniel Hunter
The Government’s long term plan to reform the way the public sector does business ramped up today (Thursday) as new and updated data on £70 billion of potential future government contracts was published by Cabinet ministers Francis Maude and Vince Cable.
Data has been published on £70 billion of potential future contracts over the next five years, across 13 different sectors including construction, property, medical and police equipment. Publishing data on future contract needs allows government and industry to work together to spot any skills and investment gaps so they can act to safeguard UK competitiveness and growth.
The Government’s proactive approach has been hailed by industry leaders today, and a total of 17 industry bodies and suppliers, including British Chambers of Commerce, the Confederation for British Industry (CBI), Institute of Directors and the UK Contractors Group, have signed up Government’s approach and signed ministers’ “Procurement Pledge”.
“We have published details of £70 billion of potential Government business. Never before has a government been so open about its long-term business needs," Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude said.
“Industry leaders recognise the value of publishing these pipelines and that is why they support our reforms which will boost growth.
“Publishing data on what we plan to buy — whether it’s tunnels or computers — means we can identify skills gaps sooner and give industry a heads up so UK businesses are in a better position to compete.”
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable said publishing this data will give British companies confidence to invest.
"In the coming years the Government will purchase billions of pounds worth of equipment and services, which means billions of pounds worth of potential opportunities for UK business," he said.
"By publishing details of our expected future requirements ahead of time and adopting a strategic approach, we can help give UK suppliers the confidence to invest in people, plants and technologies here at home so they can compete for and win these government contracts, as well as seek new opportunities abroad.
"Frankly, we’ve been too short-term in how we’ve done procurement in the past. Our key competitors in Europe already see procurement as an integral part of a proper industrial strategy and it’s time we did the same. This is a win-win scenario, making our businesses stronger and providing best value for the taxpayer."
In addition to identifying skills gaps, today’s measures will help to combat the “famine and feast” nature of the jobs market where a lack of central data on projects across the country can lead to avoidable gaps between projects.
The Government has also published an initial analysis on strategic capability, using construction and tunnelling as an example and identifying some of the skills and changes required to meet future demand. In future the Government will publish plans for other key sectors.
Today’s announcement builds on a package of measures published by the Government in November 2011 to revolutionise it buys from the private sector. The package included publishing £50bn of potential business online; making it 40 per cent faster to do business with government; and collaborating with businesses in the UK at a much earlier stage in the procurement process so they do not find themselves excluded from opportunities.
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