Public bodies in Wales spend over £6 billion each year on buying goods, services and works. It is essential that this is seen as an investment towards meeting all seven of our well-being goals.
We have raised concerns with Welsh Government and provided evidence to the National Assembly for Wales’ Public Accounts Committee highlighting the fact that procurement policy and practice in Wales has not kept up with the new requirements under the Well-being of Future Generations Act.
The Procurement Policy Statement for example does not reflect the Act and the extent to which the National Procurement Service and Value Wales are embedding the Act is not clear.
Following these interventions in September 2017, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Local Government, Mark Drakeford AM, initiated a review into the National Procurement Service and Value Wales. This is a clear opportunity to ensure that the Well-being of Future Generations Act is the over-arching framework for how we buy goods, services and works in Wales.
In order to secure policy and procedural change in this area we have:
– Contributed to the Welsh Government review through membership of the Stakeholder Reference Group. The review is on-going, and we are continuing to work with officials and with the Group to emphasise the potential to improve the well-being of Wales through what we buy.
– Supported workshops for Value Wales and the National Procurement Service and have provided assistance to help them understand how the Act can be better applied across what they do, at a strategic and practical level.
– Challenged public bodies to look at how they can use procurement as a vehicle to test new ways of thinking and find ways for procurement to deliver far more than just products and services by utilising the whole life-cycle approach, contributing to the zero waste and decarbonisation agendas and delivering real community benefits, both in Wales and in developing countries. We have been working with a range of other organisations including WRAP, Good Practice Exchange, Business in the Community, Centre for Local Economic Strategies and the Wales Centre for Public Policy to explore opportunities to collaborate, to challenge and change the way procurement is done in Wales.
– Worked with the National Procurement Service (NPS) to influence the development of new food frameworks in the National Procurement Service – through following the five ways of working they have developed procurement objectives under all seven well-being goals to promote local suppliers, environmental considerations, lower carbon emissions, ethical and Fairtrade goods. The food framework contract is worth £73 million and is available to 72 public body customers. The outcome of this work is that 80% of suppliers on the new fresh food contracts are Welsh SMEs. The NPS is now working with their suppliers to develop indicators that will monitor food waste, packaging, use of sustainable products, transportation and greenhouse gas emissions with the aim of improving environmental performance over time.
– Included advice on procurement in my statutory advice to public services boards as described above in this report.
– As a result of our work with them, we have influenced and informed the Welsh Government’s approach to developing pilots focused on the Act, working with Caerphilly, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire councils to develop an effective and consistent approach for applying the Act to procurement activity in organisations, which can then be replicated across Wales. Some of these pilots involve reducing plastics in the supply chain associated with food, eco-friendly alternatives to one third size school milk cartons, increasing supply of local food by improving supply chain analysis, supporting an authority with their collaborative Catering Disposables Framework by looking at sustainable alternatives.
The pilots have started, and the focus of my work is now to provide support on capacity building, test different approaches and explore opportunities to embed the Act into specific commodities, increasing local suppliers in the supply chain and a focus on plastics and packaging. We look forward to seeing the impact of these new approaches over the coming year.