Group says its proposals could unlock £3.4bn for the construction industry

More than £3bn could be unlocked for the construction sector if politicians got to grips with reforming the UK’s procurement rules, according to Scape.

The public sector procurement group said it wanted politicians to reform the rules to help boost local economies and deliver what it calls “greater social value for communities through public contracts”.

Scape said its analysis of public sector contracts meant such a move could unlock up to £14.4bn for regional supply chains, including £3.4bn for the construction industry. Government procurement sees £268bn spent every year, it said, equivalent to 14% of the UK’s GDP.

Scape’s response to proposals in the Government’s pre-election Green Paper, Building Our Industrial Strategy, includes four key recommendations to boost local supply chains, help cut down unnecessary bureaucracy for SMEs, and drive up innovation and quality through best practice procurement in the public sector.

They are what the firm called a “clearer definition of social value” and a 20% minimum on public sector projects and contracts over £10m; a new ‘By Appointment to HM Government’ title for public sector suppliers to encourage SMEs to bid; a government-led Best Practice Guide for Public Sector Procurement, and further streamlining and standardisation of procurement processes and tendering requirements.

Mark Robinson, Scape’s chief executive, said that while politicians on all sides agreed that SMEs were the lifeblood of the UK economy and post-Brexit trade, “the reality of a minority government and a parliament blocked up with Brexit legislation meant there is now a huge risk that industrial strategy gets watered down and major infrastructure projects like Heathrow or HS2 are delayed.

“We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to level the playing field for SMEs or invest in regional economies,” he added.