The Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group Wales/Cymru is calling for public procurers across the principality to better engage with their local small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
The SEC, which claims to represent the largest sector in Welsh construction, has submitted written evidence to the Welsh economy, infrastructure & skills committee inquiry into public procurement in the foundational economy.
Using data provided by contract s monitoring firm Tussell, SEC Group Wales/Cymru has found that over the past four-and-a-half years – since the start of 2015 – Welsh public bodies have awarded 121 construction contracts with a total aggregate value of £1.94bn. Of these, 54 contracts were awarded to firms with a Welsh-registered address, which represents close to half the number but only 17.1% of the total value.
The SEC Group Wales/Cymru is pressing public sector construction procurers in Wales to contract directly with the engineering trades, which provide the largest value inputs on construction projects, rather than engage them as subcontractors under a UK-based outsourcer.
It also wants large contracts to be broken up into smaller lots wherever feasible.
SEC Group Wales/Cymru national executive officer Catherine Griffith-Williams said: “Construction procurement and delivery is riddled with process inefficiencies much of which is engendered by outdated procurement methods and a multitude of fragmented inputs compounded by poor practices such as late payments.”
Catherine Griffith-Williams added: “We have seen the consequences of using large outsourcers such as Carillion. Using locally-based SMEs delivers greater social value which means more employment opportunities in Wales, more apprenticeships and more business for local suppliers.
She also claimed that using Welsh contractors would be 20% cheaper and improve the build quality.
The consultation on public procurement in the foundational economy closes today. See www.senedd.assembly.wales for details.