The Welsh Government should increase its spend with Welsh firms to bolster the local economy post-Brexit, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) Cymru.
Commenting on a debate due to be held in the Welsh Assembly, during which Plaid Cymru will call for a new Procurement Bill, Ifan Glyn, Director of FMB Cymru, said, “Small businesses are the backbone of the Welsh economy – they create jobs, train apprentices and then go on to spend any profits here in Wales, driving wider economic growth. The more public sector contracts are won by small local businesses, the greater the economic boost that our communities will feel.
“Current Welsh Government policy on procurement is set out in the ‘Wales Procurement Policy Statement’, which encourages public sector organisations to do more to make public sector contracts more accessible to small, local firms. However, adhering to the policy is not mandatory and that’s something that ought to change post-Brexit. Until the Welsh Government’s procurement policy is made compulsory through legislation, small indigenous firms will continue to miss out on many of the £6bn worth of contracts handed out every year by the public sector. Public sector bodies are currently under enormous financial pressures due to the UK Government’s austerity agenda. This is unfortunately forcing them further down the route of prioritising price over all else.
“Local authorities do not have statutory responsibility for economic development in their own localities, which means that they can sometimes appear short-sighted when it comes to how they procure – it often seems like more often than not, councils simply hand contracts to the lowest bidder, regardless of the wider economic impact, or lack thereof. That’s why we’re backing calls from Plaid Cymru for a Procurement Bill that can mandate buying Welsh wherever possible in order to boost the Welsh economy. With Article 50 looming large next week, and EU funding hanging in the balance, now is the right time to change how we approach procurement and pledge to buy Welsh. The Government is one of the construction industry’s biggest clients, so for our sector this is particularly vital.”