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Sat January 22 2022

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Specialists set out Scottish procurement recommendations

29 Mar 18 Members of the Scottish Parliament’s cross party group for construction have been advised by specialist contractors on ways to improve public procurement.

The Scottish Parliament Building
The Scottish Parliament Building

Greater use of project bank accounts, placing retentions in trust and the creation of a construction regulator were among the proposals.

The MSPs were briefed by Alan Wilson, head of membership and communications at the Scottish electrical contractors’ trade association Select and national executive officer of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group.

Mr Wilson said: “My presentation was made to a group of MSPs as well as interested parties from throughout the construction sector to give our organisations’ views on how procurement could be improved.

“I wanted to draw to the attention of our elected representatives a number of issues including the payment cycle, retentions, large packaging of contracts and lack of accountability.”

On payment, he suggested the more stringent enforcement of Section 15 of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 as well as the extension of, and reduction of limits for, project bank accounts.

He proposed placing all retentions into a trust-based deposit scheme and greater implementation of the Procurement Reform Act’s provisions, which allow public bodies to package contracts into smaller lots for which small firms can more realistically bid.

On accountability, he advocated the introduction of a yellow/red card scheme and the appointment of a construction regulator.

“In the wake of the Carillion crisis, now is the time to act,” Mr Wilson said. “People need to be accountable, and they need to pay on time. Retentions should not be used as bargaining chips and we should try to get away from the fixation of large scale contracts.”

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