Opening up Public Sector Markets to the Third Sector
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the third sector is able to play a full role in public service reform through greater involvement in service design and delivery. The third sector is well placed to deliver many of the recommendations of the Christie Commission regarding partnership working, collaborative spend in localities and preventative spend.
This commitment was clearly articulated in the Spending Review of September 2011:
“We will be working across Government and the public sector to ensure that the third sector’s role can be maximised, supporting greater collaboration between the public and the third sectors both at the local and national levels.”
The Scottish Government has therefore put in place programmes that are aimed at:
- increasing public sector understanding of the third sector; and
- increasing the capability and the capacity of the third sector to bid for and win public sector contracts.
Increasing public sector understanding of the third sector
Developing Markets for Third Sector Suppliers
In November 2011 Scottish Ministers awarded this new contract to a consortium led by Ready for Business LLP to Develop Markets for Third Sector Suppliers. In order to enable greater opportunities for the third sector to be involved in the design and delivery of public services, this contract will assist those in the public sector involved in commissioning and procurement to:
- improve their understanding of third sector suppliers and thereby open markets;
- strengthen understanding and use of Community Benefits in Procurement; and
- encourage routine use of co-production in the design of public services and support the development of Public-Social Partnerships.
Full details of the programme are available from the Developing Markets website
Public-Social Partnerships (PSP)
A PSP typically comprises three stages:-
- third sector organisations work with public sector purchasers to design a service;
- a consortium of public sector and third sector organisations may conduct a short-term pilot, helping to refine service delivery parameters;
- the service is further developed to maximise community benefit before being competitively tendered.
PSPs can enable the delivery of public services more efficiently and with more person-centred outcomes for users of services, by putting co-production at the heart of service design. As well as the centrality of co-production, PSPs have the added benefit of giving all partners the opportunity to test out new service designs through piloting. This allows operational issues to be addressed and user feedback to be incorporated into the final design of the service. The Scottish Government published guidance on developing and running Public-Social Partnerships in July 2011
Community Benefits in Procurement
Community Benefits in Procurement can be added to any suitable contract to provide wider social benefit. Typically, these are Targeted Recruitment and Training, Small Business and Social Enterprise Development and Community Engagement and Enhancement.
Community Benefit clauses are not just about procurement, they require organisations to take a strategic view of what is being bought, their wider social obligations and what additional benefits could be achieved. Costs of including such clauses are minimal and suppliers who respond well on Community Benefit questions, also do well in delivering the contract.
Further information on the context to and application of sustainable procurement in particular Community Benefits in Procurement (and other issues of importance to third sector providers) can be accessed on the Community Benefits page of the Scottish Government’s website.
Across public procurement a national reform programme includes intentions to develop specific legislation around strengthening sustainable practices in procurement.
Supported Businesses in Scotland
Supported businesses are organisations where more than 50% of the workers are disabled persons who by reason of the nature or severity of their disability are unable to take up work in the open labour market. The Scottish Government has previously published procurement policy and other information on Supported Businesses which identifies how public bodies can reserve contracts for supported businesses, a supported employment programme or supported factories. The British Association of Supported Employment (BASE) in association with the Scottish Government published a brochure providing details of Supported Businesses based in Scotland, the products they offer and the services they provide.
Increasing the capability and capacity of Scotland’s enterprising third sector to bid for and win public sector contracts
Public Contracts Scotland portal
The Public Contracts Scotland portal gives organisations free access to contract opportunities in Scotland. This includes contracts with Local Authorities, NHS Scotland, the Scottish Government, Higher and Further Education and Emergency Services. As well as being able to browse the database of available contracts. You can register on the site as a third sector supplier and receive free e-mail alerts about contracting opportunities in which you have registered an interest.
Just Enterprise Programme
The Scottish Government has put in place new national programme to provide business support for enterprising third sector organisations and this includes a range of activity for organisations with the greatest potential to grow and develop sustainably - that could be in terms of income, employment or contracts secured. This service offers four main themes and organisations may to register on these programmes;
The Supplier Development programme
The Supplier Development Programme (SDP), is a local authority partnership programme established to offer small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) the opportunity to grow and diversify through procurement.
The SDP aims to assist SMEs to improve their performance in winning contracts with public sector organisations. Scottish Government funding enables third sector organisations to benefit from the programme no matter where they are based. The programme offers information, support and training events to help unravel the tendering process.
If you are a Supplier, Buyer or Partner Agency you are welcome to register now with the SDP.