Today Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, launched her policy report into the state of progressive public procurement in the South.
The report ‘Towards A New Strategy For Progressive Procurement’ investigates the use of social clauses in public procurement and outlines a strategy for a new approach to procurement in the South, in order to use public spending to support the public good.
Public procurement is the process by which the state and public entities contract with suppliers for goods, services and capital works. A social clause is a provision in a contract which requires contractors to meet certain social or environmental obligations. It is a legal requirement stipulating that the contract must provide some added Social Value.
Teachta Farrell said:
“I am proud to be launching my report today on progressive public procurement. This issue offers an exciting opportunity to redefine how the state spends public money so that it can benefit wider society.
“EU states are big spenders when it comes to public procurement and Ireland is no different. We have an annual spend of around €12 billion and this is set to rise further in the coming years.
“Therefore it is imperative that we try to maximise the social value that can arise from the spending of public money. As my report outlines, the use of social clauses in procurement contracts is a key way to do this.
“They can be used for the purposes of labour activation in the form of hiring people off the live register and the creation of apprenticeships/training. They can also be used to promote the participation of the SMEs and those from marginalised groups, to increase labour standards (payment of the living wage) or to support environmental goals.
“The EU Commission identifies them as a ‘strategic tool to drive social and labour policies forward in an effective manner’ and key to the EU’s Green New Deal. They can be an exciting opportunity for Ireland to advance our green policies for the better of our environment.
“Unfortunately, the Office of Government Procurement doesn’t collect information on social clause usage, nor do the Ministers for Public Expenditure and Minister for State (Procurement) compile a report.
“My report investigates social clause usage in Ireland over a three-year period (2018 -2020). It highlights the deficiencies in the government’s current approach to procurement and outlines a clear roadmap for how we can improve things.”