Boost Welsh Economy and Small Firms Through Public Procurement, Leanne Urges

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Leanne Wood has called on the Labour Government to create a level playing field for small businesses.

The Rhondda AM made the point while talking about the complicated public procurement process which often favours larger firms during the bidding process for contracts in the public sector. Recently Leanne was contacted by a firm in the Rhondda who lost out on two large contracts with the Welsh Government to much larger companies based outside Wales.

For every 1% spent through local procurement up to 2,000 extra jobs can be created. Wales is lagging behind other nations – such as Scotland - when it comes to using local firms for public sector work.

During plenary questions to Mark Drakeford AM, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Leanne said: “Minister, you're in charge of the National Procurement Service, and you'll know from previous correspondence that I've got concerns about the way in which larger firms are able to navigate and score higher within the procurement tendering process much easier than smaller firms who don't have a dedicated procurement department like their larger counterparts.

“I gave you a specific example as to how this impacted a firm in the Rhondda, and that's meant that money has leaked out of my constituency now and gone to a firm that is outside of Wales, which is obviously going to have an impact on local jobs and other businesses as well.

“What pressure can you bring to bear within your Government to ensure that there is a level playing field for all businesses, whether large or small, when it comes to the tendering process?

In reply, Mr Drakeford said: “She will know that there is a review of the National Procurement Service and Value Wales that is currently under way. It's there to make sure that, if there are any opportunities to us to adjust our procurement procedures the other side of the European Union, we are able to take those opportunities.

“One of the things that we may be able to do—and I must emphasise, of course, Llywydd, that this is still part of the discussion—will be to amend the rules, so that the sorts of firms to which Leanne Wood referred—local firms without the capacity to be constantly involved in the procurement field—that there is a more level playing field for them as compared to some of the rules that we currently have to abide by.”

Afterwards, Leanne said: “If the Minister is intent on revising procurement procedures after Brexit, he will have a long time to wait. Control of public procurement is one of the 24 devolved policy areas that this Labour Government in Wales handed control back to Westminster for the next seven years.

“Until that time, we are at the mercy of the Westminster Government for which Wales has been, at best, an afterthought.”

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