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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Katja Hall: We welcome the provision in the Bill. It is not particularly detailed, so we look forward to seeing the consultation document and the follow-up to that. We believe that procurement can be an effective lever, and our members support the general principle behind the clause. For the clause to be effective, we suggest that it needs to be focused on outcomes and not on processes or ticking boxes. It also needs to be relevant to the contract and to be sufficiently flexible to enable you to focus on different issues in different areas. So, for example, if you are delivering welfare-to-work services in Bradford, race may be a relevant factor. However, if you are contracting for stationery in Devon, race would probably not be a relevant factor. So the clause needs to be sufficiently flexible.

The only other point that I would make about procurement is that our members get quite frustrated about the inconsistency in approach. We would like to see much better guidance given to local authorities and public service organisations about what questions they should ask, what they should be looking out for and about how the bids are assessed. Certainly, the feedback that we have received is that there is a lot of inconsistency at the moment and employers do not quite know where they stand.