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Support for Scottish businesses

29/10/2008

The first ever Scottish national portal for public contracting opportunities, Public Contracts Scotland, was launched today as part of the Scottish Government's Economic Recovery Plan.

Finance Secretary John Swinney said that improving access to public sector contracts will benefit business in a tough economic climate and deliver a better deal for the taxpayer.

Public Contracts Scotland is a free service for suppliers to have easy access to all essential information on public sector business opportunities, worth around £8 billion a year in Scotland.

Speaking at the National Public Procurement Conference in Glasgow, John Swinney said:

"In a tough economic climate, everything we do has to support the economy and build a wealthier and fairer Scotland.

"This project is a fundamental change in the way that the public and private sectors will do business in future - in particular by reducing red tape and removing the barriers that can prevent us from working together with business.

"One single source of information now gives suppliers access to contracts. For the public sector, a free and simple portal can open up tenders to a wide range of potential bidders.

"Public Contracts Scotland is now live and already demonstrating its worth - 10,000 suppliers have already registered in just a few months, chasing 700 contract opportunities.

"The potential economic benefits are significant and I expect every public body in Scotland to play their part and use Public Contracts Scotland. We need this project to succeed in the interests of economic development. If public bodies do not advertise on the Public Contracts Scotland portal, we will consider introducing legislation in the interests of Scottish suppliers."

Welcoming the project, David Lonsdale from CBI Scotland said:

"The Scottish Government's new advertising portal heralds a great opportunity for Scots firms to win orders and grow their business, and ought to benefit public procurers, private sector suppliers and taxpayers alike. Public procurement policy is not just an issue of value for money and efficiency in our public services, but goes right to the heart of the debate about growing our economy.

"We are delighted that Ministers are delivering on this portal as it will provide welcome new opportunities for the growth-oriented businesses Scotland wants to encourage, and I would encourage firms across Scotland to sign up."

Andy Willox, Federation of Small Businesses' Scottish Policy Convenor said:

"One of the major barriers that Scotland's SMEs face when trying to compete for public sector contracts is that they just don't know what opportunities are out there and where to find them. We are therefore delighted that Public Contracts Scotland has been introduced by the Scottish Government.

"This is a positive step in helping to create a level playing field where small businesses can find and bid for Scottish public sector contract opportunities. We look forward to Public Contracts Scotland overcoming barriers to accessing small and large public sector contracts. We hope it will become the first port of call for small businesses seeking to find, tender for and win public contracts".

The project is already improving access to public business opportunities, with over 10,000 suppliers registered and information on over 700 contract notices published since the technology went live in July.

Public Contracts Scotland will:

  • Stimulate economic growth in Scotland by developing a competitive market environment in which potential suppliers have easy access to all essential information on business opportunities arising from the public sector
  • The service will be free of charge and includes a free alert service, so that suppliers will be informed when opportunities in their line of business arise
  • Allow public bodies to set-up Buyer Profiles that suppliers can use as a quick reference point for contact details and current and past tender opportunities (this will allow for reduced timescales to tender under EU Law)
  • Allow pre-qualification questionnaires and other tender documents to be attached to the advertisement notice and provide the facility for suppliers to register interest

Feedback from users so far:

Helen Henry (Purchasing Manager) in the Scottish Parliament said:

"The Scottish Parliament is committed to actively removing barriers to participation by SMEs in SPCB procurement. In order to help achieve this aim it is essential that our adverts for forthcoming contracts reach as many SMEs as possible. Public Contracts Scotland will be a valuable tool in helping us achieve this."

Matthew O'Brian, from Matthew O'Brian Forestry Services accessed the website and subsequently secured a contract. He said:

"This is a fantastic resource for small and large contractors alike. It brings information directly to your office or your home, allowing you to tender for bigger contracts, saving both time and money all round. Public Contract Scotland has helped us to expand our business in one easy step."