Procurement Policies

1. Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Cabinet Office – in the Senedd at on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of Paul Davies Paul Davies Conservative

(Translated)

5. What is the Welsh Government doing to strengthen its procurement policies? OQ61082

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:04, 15 May 2024

Procurement is one of the most important levers we have to support a more equal, more sustainable and more prosperous Wales. Implementing robust procurement policies can help us achieve our ambitious net-zero aspirations, support a green recovery and contribute to our shared ambition for a Wales of fair work.

Photo of Paul Davies Paul Davies Conservative

Cabinet Secretary, I believe that the Welsh public sector should be procuring Welsh goods and services as much as possible. And so when a constituent contacted me with concerns about Cadw's procurement of goods, I was really disappointed to learn recently that only around 60 per cent of suppliers who provide products sold at Cadw sites are actually based here in Wales.

Now, for many years, the Welsh Government has talked about the need to support Welsh businesses, and it's vital that we see organisations such as Cadw—which, after all, is a Welsh Government funded organsiation—doing everything it can to support Welsh suppliers. So, Cabinet Secretary, can you tell us what action the Welsh Government is taking to ensure that all Welsh Government funded organisations and sites are supporting Welsh businesses as much as they can?

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:05, 15 May 2024

I'm very grateful for the question, and it leads me to think of some work that we've been doing through the co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru in relation to better understanding Welsh spend in terms of procurement. So, we've been looking at how we can map out spend more accurately in Wales, and there are lots of questions, even fundamentally, that we have to answer. So, how do you go about defining a Welsh company? Is it a company that has a business here in Wales, or a postcode here in Wales? Some businesses that contribute an awful lot to the Welsh economy aren’t Welsh businesses, if you like. So, what credence do we give to the number of Welsh employees? That kind of thing. So, we've been looking very closely at how we go about defining that work, and we hope to say a bit more about that in due course.

But then we're also considering how we can establish a kind of ‘made in Wales’ mark that businesses can use themselves to identify themselves, looking at the ‘made in Ireland’ mark that has been given to businesses over there. That does help businesses, as we understand it, to be able to market themselves in Ireland as Irish products. We're looking to see what more we can be doing here.

We do have a great deal of public policy advice notices that are provided to the public sector to enable them to better support businesses that are here in Wales, and also to deliver on some of our other priorities, such as supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in particular. So, there are a number of things going on in procurement at the moment, not least our new procurement legislation.

Following the exit from the European Union, we have had to look fundamentally at the way in which we procure, so we're able, through that legislation, to put a greater focus on procurement in that kind of local context. Equally, we have the work that we've been doing with the UK Government on this as well, and our own social services—. I always say social services, but it is our our social partnership Bill, which again seeks to drive those public goods, if you like, from our procurement.

Photo of Mabon ap Gwynfor Mabon ap Gwynfor Plaid Cymru 2:07, 15 May 2024

(Translated)

Along the same lines as Paul Davies, one of the things that is most frustrating for me, certainly, in terms of public bodies in Wales is the fact that many of them are outsourcing their work to other companies—companies that are very often not located here in Wales, and that don't even have a workforce working here. It's even more frustrating when you consider that that work doesn't have to be outsourced. There are skills within those public bodies that could do it, but for whatever reason, the public body decides that the best decision is to outsource to an external company. So, what steps are you taking in order to ensure that not too many of these projects and plans are outsourced to external companies, and if things do have to be outsourced, that they are outsourced to companies that bring economic benefit to those communities that are being worked upon? 

Photo of Rebecca Evans Rebecca Evans Labour 2:08, 15 May 2024

We know that this is a concern to a number of public bodies, which is why we've worked to develop an insourcing toolkit. We know that a number of local authorities are very interested—local authorities, but you could read across to other parts of the public sector—in what more they could insource. So, we worked hard with, I think it was—. The organisation's name escapes me now, but perhaps I will write to the Member with more information. But we did develop an insourcing toolkit that we felt met the needs that public bodies were telling us that they wanted, in terms of understanding the arguments for insourcing and then testing how they would compare one contract against another, and how you can demonstrate value for money in a different way and so on. So, I think that that toolkit has been well received, and I'd be happy to send you a copy.