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One week on: What the UK Budget 2020 means

On 11 March 2020 the UK Budget was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, after less than a month in the position. The Budget was one of the most anticipated of recent years, encompassing a budget of true firsts. The first of a new decade, the first Budget under the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, the first Budget delivered since the Conservative party was elected into Government in December, Chancellor Sunak’s fist Budget and, of course, the first budget in post-Brexit Britain. The Budget is significant too, in its response to the Coronavirus, which was pronounced a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) later in the same day.

In this developing political, economic and social landscape, BiP Solutions examines the key themes of the Budget by sector one week on from the Budget’s announcement. We outline what these new measures may mean for BiP customers, clients and other stakeholders in public and private sector procurement.

COVID-19 and business rates

The Chancellor was quick to acknowledge that the impact of the coronavirus will damage the UK economy sharply and largely – but temporarily. The risks had already been acknowledged with the Bank of England announcing an emergency cut in interest rates on Budget morning in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Rates have reduced from 0.75% to 0.25% – the lowest level since the global financial crash in 2008. The Bank has predicted the virus will lead to temporary, but significant, disruptions to supply chains and challenges to cash flow which will be felt most acutely by smaller businesses.

The UK Government Treasury and the Bank of England have clearly co-ordinated their responses to the potentially severe economic effects of Coronavirus with measures in the Budget allowing banks to lend far more easily to support SMEs and other businesses throughout this period. A statement by the Bank of England said: “The reduction in Bank Rate will help to support business and consumer confidence at a difficult time, to bolster the cash flows of businesses and households, and to reduce the cost, and to improve the availability, of finance.”  

It is worth noting that the Bank of England does not cut interest rates lightly – this is a bold move by Mark Carney and his colleagues, as his six and half year term as Governor of the Bank of England comes to an end this week.

Business stability and growth are at the heart of BiP’s mission. We support and encourage businesses of all sizes and specialisms to grow through effective, collaborative and sustainable procurement. These measures implemented in the Budget seem comprehensive and will help businesses that may struggle the most get through a difficult period.

Statutory sick pay 

A significant area of the Budget that was mostly welcomed across opposition parties clarifies some areas of uncertainty around Statutory Sick Pay amid Coronavirus. All individuals who are advised to self-isolate, whether they have presented with symptoms or not, will be given Statutory Sick Pay and can obtain a sick note via NHS 111. In addition, they can claim Statutory Sick Pay from day one of their illness, instead of day four, which was previously confirmed by the Prime Minister.

For businesses with 250 employees or fewer, Statutory Sick Pay will be refunded by the Government for each employee for the full 14 days – a measure to protect smaller businesses from buckling under economic strains. The Budget also allows people to have faster and easier access to benefits, as well as contributory employment and support allowance (ESA) being claimable from day one instead of day eight. However, the budget did not clarify whether these measures would extend to people on zero-hour contracts.

The NHS and public services

Perhaps the most popular headline in the 24 hours after the Budget announcement is the £30 billion of extra funding for the economy, including £12 billion of emergency funds to support jobs, the economy and public services during the Coronavirus outbreak. Chancellor Sunak said the NHS will receive “whatever it needs” throughout the outbreak, although according to Budget allocations this is looking initially to be around £5 billion.

It remains to be seen how the NHS and other public services will cope as Coronavirus cases in the UK rise, but there does seem to be a consensus that all parties and all industry leaders will show a united front to pull together to protect the UK, its people and its economy.

For new and existing suppliers working in healthcare procurement, or who are looking to work in this sector in the future, we are in a historic time which will demand the very best procurement strategies, in preparation and in practice. The NHS and the wider healthcare sector will be looking to suppliers to help the sector respond to the unprecedented demands of Coronavirus. Procurement, more than ever, has an incredibly powerful role to play in bringing buyers, suppliers and other key stakeholders together to produce a lasting positive impact on the communities where we live and work.

Infrastructure 

Boris Johnson assured the public that this Budget would deliver “an industrial revolution”. However, the much-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy has been delayed until one week after the Budget, despite an earlier announcement that £600 billion would be invested in the UK’s infrastructure by 2025. The Strategy is expected to detail infrastructure funding and projects over the next 30 years, and to play an instrumental role in ‘levelling up’ regional disparities in UK infrastructure projects. The reason cited for the delay is to allow Sunak to refocus the strategy, reflecting the larger spend that has been made available. That said, the Budget had crucial talking points for infrastructure and the developments to come.

Mr Sunak announced an extensive investment in infrastructure of all kinds in the Budget, a total of £170 billion over five years. As well as £1.1 billion to build 70,000 new homes in high demand areas, flood defences in the north of England have been allocated £200 million for repairs and to improve local flood resilience. This doubles the spend on flood defences to £5.2 billion. Strategic and local roads was welcomed. The latter includes a £2.5 billion ‘pothole fund’ and £27 million ring-fenced to build over 4,000 miles of road across Britain. Other announcements included £5 billion to get gigabit-capable broadband into hard to reach areas, as well as investment of over £500 million in mobile phone capability in rural areas, illustrating how essential modern technology is to the economy and people’s lives.

The emphasis on digital transformation in the infrastructure industry, as well as the implementation of further green initiatives – including the Plastic Packaging Tax set at £200 per tonne and £500 million to be spent on charging points for electric vehicles – will mean buyers and suppliers working in infrastructure procurement will need to be more innovative, more sustainable and more collaborative than ever before. The infrastructure and construction industry, which equates to roughly 7% of the UK economy, will take centre stage in procurement and will be a key sector leading the UK into the new decade.  

Looking to the future: R&D

The Budget placed emphasis on looking to the future and the development of new products and services to meet our needs with significant support for research and development. An increase in the R&D expenditure credit will help businesses of all sizes while SME R&D tax relief allows companies to deduct an extra 130 per cent of their qualifying costs from their yearly profit, as well as the normal 100 per cent deduction. It also allows businesses to claim a tax credit if the company is loss-making, worth up to 14.5 per cent of the loss. Overall, the Budget set out plans to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion a year by 2024-25, which will take support for R&D to 0.8% of GDP. This investment is good news for innovation, which in turn feeds into procurement as public sector buyers seek better, more efficient solutions.

The Budget Overall

The Budget has come at an unprecedented time, as leaders across the globe fight the Coronavirus. The Budget is also remarkable in its 2.8% per annum real growth in public service spending. On this rising spend, Paul Johnson of the IFS took to Twitter to state: ‘This is much faster than economic growth. With investment spending rising even faster, something has to give.’

It would not be wrong to say this Budget, the biggest giveaway since 1992, indicates the Government may be stepping away from the austerity and deficit reduction of the past decade to – in Mr Sunak’s words – provide “security today” and “prosperity tomorrow”. The Chancellor also announced a review of the framework underlying the fiscal rules on balancing borrowing and spending. Commentators suggest that this means that the fiscal rules could be relaxed in time for the Autumn Budget, giving the Chancellor more options to borrow to fund future spending. In combination with the Spending Review, due to be completed by July, this suggests that this government is looking to spend more to invest in public services and the UK economy. This, in turn, is likely to create more opportunities for businesses looking to supply to the public sector, which will perhaps go some way to counteract the economic dive caused by Coronavirus.

Despite the economic and social risks associated with the Coronavirus pandemic, the message from Budget 2020 is that this is also a time to prepare for a future of developing projects across a number of industries. The landscape of the UK, from healthcare to infrastructure, to SME support, is full of potential.

BiP Solutions’ Content, Research and Communications Director, Grahame Steed, echoes this sentiment in his statement:  

“This budget demonstrates that public sector investment is firmly back on the agenda: meaning there will be countless opportunities across the supply chain. While the Coronavirus is clearly the number one priority at this point, we anticipate that further investment into the public sector will be needed in future, to restore social and economic activity.” Now is the time for suppliers to engage with this huge, diverse and solutions-hungry market, and benefit from a boost in public spending not seen since 1992.

Stay updated with the evolving Coronavirus situation and other aspects of interest to the public and private sector with BiP Solutions. 

Get started in defence procurement with Supply2Defence

Keeping ahead of the curve and giving your business the best possible advantage is set to become even easier with the upcoming launch of the new tender alerts service ‘Supply2Defence’.

Supply2Defence is brought to you by BiP Solutions and is the latest addition to the Supply2 family, focusing on opportunities within the defence, security and emergency service (‘blue light’) sectors.

In FY 2017/18, the MOD spent almost £21 billion on defence and security, accounting for over 40% of all UK central government procurement spend and representing the fifth biggest defence budget in the world, with over 16,000 suppliers.

This budget, together with the Government’s aspiration that 25% of public procurement expenditure should be with SMEs directly or as part of the supply chain by 2022, represents a fantastic opportunity for organisations of all sizes looking to supply to the defence sector.

It’s always worth reiterating that opportunities in defence are not limited to the tanks, submarines, ships and aircraft that make up the typical defence budget. Procurement activity covers a very wide range of requirements such as facilities management, goods and services, catering, IT, logistics, training and fleet management.

Supply2Defence provides the UK and Ireland’s largest database of defence, security and blue light tenders, publishing more notices than any other provider – including government portals.

This single source solution allows users to browse all the latest defence, blue light and security tender notices and awards.

Users will be able to create the perfect plan to grow their business with public sector tenders. Daily updates, based on data extracted from over 3000 sources, will provide customers with the peace of mind that opportunities will not be missed.

Accessibility and flexibility are both key to the service, which offers free registration to new customers with a free subscription to the local area of their choice.

Customers then have the option to ‘pay as they grow’ with monthly and annual subscriptions available. The service also provides resources and support to help customers win more business.

Be one of the first to know when the site goes live by registering your interest here.

Scotland budget announcement 2020-21

The Scottish Government has announced its budget for the year 2020/21, with a live announcement by Kate Forbes MSP, Minister of Public Finance and the Digital Economy, to the Scottish Parliament on 6 February 2020.

This Budget comes over a month earlier than the UK budget announcement, set to be delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, on 11 March. This is unusual. The Scottish government usually waits for the UK Budget to announce UK funding for Scotland before finalising its own spending plans. However, it was decided that 11 March fell too close to the start of the new financial year for this to be practicable. UK funding for Scotland is expected to be increased from last year, with the Conservative party stating there will be an extra £1.1 billion allocated to Scotland.

Kate Forbes described the Budget as setting out a “bold and ambitious programme” with “wellbeing and fairness at its very heart.” The main figures in the Scotland Budget are highlighted below, with climate change, public services and income tax forming key areas of spending and investment.

Scotland budget – facts and figures

Climate emergency

The Budget focused heavily on measures to tackle climate change and transform Scotland to implement new greener initiatives. As expected, the climate emergency formed perhaps the largest topic in the Budget announcement speech, with key spending figures in the following areas:

  • £1.8 billion of capital investment in specific products to reduce carbon emissions. This is an increase of £500 million compared with last year.
  • The Scottish Government committed to over a quarter of a billion (£250 million) dedicated to peatland restoration over the next ten years, to spend on large restoration projects which will enhance biodiversity in some of the most important habitats in Europe and generate more jobs in rural communities. This includes £20 million in 2020.
  • £200 million of revenue-financed investment to local authorities to provide an incentive to use the assets available to reduce emissions and boost the Scottish economy through the green growth accelerator.
  • Investment of more than £64 million to support the commitment to plant 12,000 hectares of forestry, with the aim to reach 15,000 hectares by the mid-2020s
  • £120 million for a heat transition deal, to recognise the need to reduce the carbon use in our buildings. This will allow Scotland to seize the huge economic opportunity renewable heat will present – delivering thousands of new green jobs.
  • £2 billion ring-fenced for transformational infrastructure investment for measures to support the delivery of the Climate Change plan during the next Scottish parliamentary term.

It is worth noting the figures above are not the only investment allocated to tackle climate change. However, they are the highlights of spending in an increasingly important area which the Scottish government has clearly prioritised. This view is expressed by Kate Forbes MSP during her Budget speech:

“These measures alone represent a substantial plan of action for the year ahead, but we must, and we will, go further. The climate emergency demands immediate action, but it also requires genuine long term commitment if we are to deliver against our statutory emissions reduction targets.”

Public services

Forming another much anticipated area of the budget, the Scottish government has pledged, for the first time ever, funding of more than £15 billion for health and care services as well as increased funding to support other key public service areas. This budget will protect and improve these services. Among the principal announcements were:

  • Investment of £9.4 billion in health and social care partnerships
  • £117 million investment in mental health services for all ages and stages of life
  • A real‑terms increase in resource funding for local government, with total overall support given through the settlement of £11.3 billion
  • Delivering an increase of nearly 60% in targeted funding to reduce harm from alcohol and drugs
  • £72 million investment for Police Scotland, which is above the increase the Scottish Government had promised, in order to effectively maintain officer numbers
  • An above real-terms increase of £37 million to the police budget and an additional £6.5 million to support community justice to reduce re-offending
  • An increase in overall funding for rail and bus services by £286 million. This will mean a total of £1.55 billion worth of investment in 2020/21. Investment in active travel will also increase to over £85 million promoting cycle, walking and more sustainable transport.
  • A 3% pay uplift for public sector workers earning up to £80,000.

Income tax

In her speech, Kate Forbes passionately stated that Scotland will continue to remain the lowest taxed part of the UK for income tax, with no increases to income tax this year. However, the Public Finance Minister did state that if there were increases, this would only be in response to the UK Government cutting taxes for higher earners.

  • Scottish income tax is expected to drive £12 billion investment
  • 56% of Scottish taxpayers will pay less than they would if they lived elsewhere the UK in 2020-21.
  • No Scottish taxpayer will pay more income tax than they did last year.

Other areas of investment

  • Infrastructure investment will boost to nearly £1 billion in the first year of the National Infrastructure Mission.
  • £800 million investment in affordable housing to help the Scottish government continue to progress towards the target of 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.
  • £220 million of seed funding for the Scottish National Investment Bank to support its mission to drive the transition to a net-zero carbon economy
  • An estimated £1.4 billion investment to support low-income households, with increased effort to bring 30,000 children out of child poverty.

Grahame Steed, Content, Research and Communications Director at BiP Solutions has recognised the importance of the Scotland budget, in his statement:

“BiP Solutions welcomes the increased investment into public services and infrastructure set out in the Budget – this should not only improve this lives of citizens in Scotland, but also create a significant economic opportunity for all types of business within this diverse supply chain.”

More information on the Scottish Budget can be found on the Scottish Government website.

The UK Budget announcement is coming on 11 March.

BiP Solutions – Transitional Period and Beyond

The UK will be leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020. BiP Solutions has been working closely with the UK government and the wider public sector to understand what this means for those involved in the public sector supply chain, and will continue to update our customers as discussions on trading arrangements and other matters evolve throughout 2020.

After 31 January, the UK will enter a transitional period – which is currently expected to end no sooner than 31 December 2020. During this period we anticipate no significant change in public procurement process. When the transitional period ends, changes to the rules and processes governing public procurement are possible – though the core principles of transparency, market engagement and SME involvement are likely to be amplified rather than reduced.  Again, we will provide updates on what these changes  mean as they become clear.

Our customers will continue to benefit from access to the most comprehensive and up to date source of contract opportunities and associated intelligence, including those originating within the EU. We will also maintain the interoperability of our eSourcing service (Delta) to the OJEU and other government portals.

The public sector is a vibrant, diverse and positive marketplace for suppliers of all sizes and specialisms – in the UK and globally. While Brexit creates challenges and change, the overall opportunity – aligned to increased investment into areas such as health, defence, education and infrastructure – remains vast.

With the benefit of 36 years’ experience and increased investment into our complete service offering, we look forward to supporting current and new customers through this transitional period and beyond.

For further updates, please go to www.bipsolutions.com

The Queen’s Speech, December 2019

18 December 2019 saw the delivery of the Queen’s Speech to Parliament, setting out the new Government’s agenda. Here, we take a look at some of the elements of proposed legislation that are of most relevance to BiP Solutions’ customers.

The UK’s departure from the European Union on 31 January was a priority, with a total of seven separate points of legislation covering different aspects of Brexit discussed. The proposed legislation covers areas agriculture, fisheries, combating “unfair trading practices” and aiming for stability in financial services. The Department for Exiting the EU itself will be dissolved on 31 January, with some of its functions rolled into the Department for International Trade.

Healthcare is another key area of focus, with legislation being introduced to enshrine a £33.9bn increase in NHS funding by 2023/4. The Mental Health Act will also be reformed, and a Medicines and Medical Devices Bill aims to deliver faster patient access to medical innovations, simultaneously supporting the growth of this area in the UK.

Sustainability and environmental damage are also mentioned, with an Environment Bill establishing a new Office for Environmental Protection, introducing charges for specific single-use plastics, and banning exports of plastic waste to non-OECD countries. This will necessitate the development of capacity to process this waste in the UK, meaning there will need to be investment and development of the relevant infrastructure.

Infrastructure was much discussed during the campaign for the recent election, and it receives specific attention in the Queen’s Speech too, with commitment to a National Infrastructure Strategy that will outline how investiture in public services and infrastructure will be achieved while keeping government borrowing and debt under control. There will also be a move to improve broadband provision, with legislation facilitating the installation of digital infrastructure. You can read more about the implications of the Speech for the construction industry at Construction Online.

Finally, there were many announcements made in defence and security, ranging from new legislation covering espionage to prisoner sentencing. Possibly the major announcement in this area for businesses is the commitment to spend a minimum of 2% of GDP on defence. Defence Online has covered this in more detail.

The text of the Queen’s Speech is available here while the Government’s briefing notes covering the proposed bills are here.

Local Government Procurement Expo 2019: Transformation and Innovation

This year’s Local Government Procurement Expo (LGPE) showcase was held on Thursday 28 November at the Novotel London West in Hammersmith. As the premier event dedicated to the development of the UK local government procurement marketplace, and officially supported by the Local Government Association, LGPE remains an unmissable date in the public sector business calendar. Procurement professionals from across local government departments the length and breadth of the UK came together to discuss the major ongoing themes affecting the industry, from the embrace of social value to initiatives supporting smaller businesses, to drive efficient and effective procurement in this vital sector.

Increasing innovation in public procurement

Malcolm Harbour CBE at LGPE 2019

Malcolm Harbour CBE at LGPE 2019

One of the highlights of the day was the speech delivered by Malcolm Harbour, Chair of the Local Government Association Task and Finish Group on Public Procurement of Innovation, on how the procurement rules can be innovation-friendly if organisations know how to use them correctly. Mr Harbour said that driving innovation begins at the root of a company, with management responsible for creating “a culture in which you encourage people to think about new ways to do things and how you want to do them.” He further commented how “alternative procurement procedures including innovation partnerships, negotiations and working closely with suppliers in a commercial partnership” can inspire collaboration between buyers and suppliers. Lucy Patchett from Supply Management covered Mr Harbour’s speech in detail in an article, which you can read here.

Another key speaker was Kevin O’Malley, Innovation/SBRI Lead at Innovate UK. Mr O’Malley’s speech focused on how effective procurement strategies can help solve the complex public sector service challenges of today, with support for innovative SMEs at the heart of this endeavour. Lizzy Grayson’s session on supporting apprenticeships and Sarah Bass’s on ‘Preventing Modern Slavery in the Supply Chain’ continued the social value theme, with lively and informative discussions afterwards.

“A number of people came to speak to me afterwards and queued up… People wanted to share their experiences with me, and they also wanted to ask what we’d done and share documents with them which I was absolutely thrilled to do. One individual came up to me and said she’s aware of an individual who she believes is being trafficked into the UK and she’s struggling with what to do, so I’ve been able to support that. If there’s one thing I’ve done today [at LGPE] it’s preventing someone from being in modern slavery – which is just amazing.” – Sarah Bass, Commissioning, Procurement and Brokerage Service Delivery Manager at Telford and Wrekin Council

Transforming local government procurement

One interesting theme that was echoed throughout the event by all organisations, across the public and private sectors alike, was just how exciting a time it is to work in the UK local government procurement marketplace. Across the many special features and zones of the event, there was an overwhelmingly positive understanding of the sheer size of the opportunity available in the sector – and an appreciation that buyers and suppliers should work together to make a real difference to the lives of people across all our communities. Through many passionate speeches and insightful conversations, the message was truly delivered how imperative it is that events like LGPE exist to provide a platform for professionals to network and share experiences that can drive positive change.

Looking to the future

Thank you to all the 700-plus delegates who attended LGPE 2019, the 40-plus organisations that exhibited on the day and the 20-odd speakers who delivered such important and insightful sessions. We hope the impact of this year’s LGPE showcase will continue to be felt for a long time to come. Keep your eyes peeled for LGPE 2020 announcements and register your interest soon on the LGPE website.

 

UPDATED: New Report: Opportunities for Smart Suppliers in 2020

Please note that BiP Solutions will be posting an update at the start of the week of 16 December in light of the result of the General Election.

Latest updates (28.11.19) include details of manifestos of all major UK parties.

As the situation around Brexit continues to be redefined, and political parties’ campaigns for the UK General Election develop, it may seem that there are many areas of flux to consider for businesses seeking to work with the public sector. As we approach 2020, political, social, economic and technological factors look set to play a major role in defining public sector supply chain opportunities over the coming months and years.

Yet against the backdrop of apparent uncertainty, there are significant opportunities in many areas for suppliers to engage with, with the investment to match. All the major political parties have pledged a renewed focus on public spending in various areas in their election manifestos, meaning new sources of business opportunity for suppliers that seek to work with them.

Drawing on the latest intelligence and our unique insights into the shape of the public procurement market, our latest report, ‘The Public Sector Market in 2020 and Beyond: Opportunities for Smart Suppliers to Get Ahead’, outlines the ways in which suppliers can maximise their opportunities throughout the public sector supply chain, focusing on key areas of opportunity, methods for gaining a competitive edge, and the solutions to enable this. The latest edition of the report has been updated to reflect the latest political developments.

The report includes:

  • Analysis of how the major political parties’ election manifesto pledges, with a focus on public spending, will affect supply chain opportunities
  • Detailed breakdown of how pre- and post-election periods can affect the number of public sector contracts awarded, with comparisons of figures from 2015 to date
  • What suppliers need to know about the major themes driving public procurement, and how they can work best to maximise their opportunities in these areas.

Download your complimentary copy of the updated report here.

As the political situation continues to develop over the coming weeks in the period before and immediately after the General Election, this post and this report will be regularly updated to reflect the latest insight and intelligence.

GO Awards Scotland 2019: Celebrating Procurement Success in Style

GO Awards Scotland 2019 trophies

This year’s GO Awards Scotland presentation took place on 29 October at the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow, celebrating the best in all aspects of public procurement in Scotland.

Celebrating Scottish Innovation

Malcolm Harrison and Nikki Archer interviewed by Rona Dougall at the GO Awards Procurement Excellence Live Stage

The Awards ceremony itself, as part of the Scottish Festival of Procurement, was preceded by the 15th Annual Scottish Government National Procurement Conference and Procurex Scotland, taking place at the SEC Glasgow on the same day. A major focus of the day was the unique innovations that set Scottish procurement apart – exactly what the GO Awards celebrate.

Procurex Scotland included the GO Awards Procurement Excellence Live Stage, hosted by Scotland Tonight host Rona Dougall. After a joint interview with Malcolm Harrison, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, and Nikki Archer, Head of Procurement and Commercial Policy & Strategy and Head of Procurement Profession at the Scottish Government, several of this year’s GO Awards Scotland finalists were interviewed onstage to describe the innovations that had led our judges to name them as finalists. Finalists interviewed included APS Group, Police Scotland, and Scotland Excel and Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company. There was also a ‘one year on’ interview with Lawrence Shackman from Transport Scotland, winners of last year’s GO Awards Scotland GO Excellence Award. Mr Shackman described the GO Awards as “a really fun Awards ceremony. I’ve been to other awards and nothing really compares!”

The GO Awards Scotland Presentation Ceremony

The evening presentation ceremony kicked off in style, with a black-tie champagne reception before guests were welcomed by a traditional piper. Presenter Rona Dougall welcomed guests before the official opening address from Ainslie McLaughlin, Director of Scottish Procurement and Commercial at the Scottish Government. Guests were then introduced to the work of the GO Awards official charity partner, the Realising Dreams Foundation.

Over the course of the evening, across 11 categories, awards were presented to 11 winners and seven Highly Commended entrants. The full list of Winners and Highly Commended entrants is available here.

The Awards presentation culminated with the GO Excellence Award. Unlike other awards, organisations cannot enter this category; instead, nominees are chosen directly by the GO Awards judging panel from among the rest of the evening’s winners. With an especially strong crop of entries this year, finalists for the GO Excellence Award were Multiplex Construction Europe Ltd and the University of Glasgow; Child Bereavement UK; and APS Group (Scotland) Ltd. While all these entries were outstanding, the overall winner was the team from Multiplex Construction Europe Ltd and the University of Glasgow, for their campus development work and its focus on integrating social value and community benefit into the project.

Multiplex Construction ltd and University of Glasgow winning GO Excellence Award

Multiplex Construction Ltd and University of Glasgow – celebrating in style!

After the Awards, the festivities continued with entertainment from two-time Scottish Comedian of the Year finalist Ray Bradshaw, performing simultaneously in English and British Sign Language, and the results of the Realising Dreams Foundation charity raffle, which saw the top prizes of a signed Scotland football shirt and an overnight stay at the Marriott Hotel raise hundreds of pounds for the charity, helping to support the dreams of many talented young people.

Comedian Ray Bradshaw had the audience laughing

What’s Next?

Congratulations once again to all finalists, and especially to all Award winners. Many of the fascinating stories behind some of the evening’s winning entries will be available on the GO Awards site Winners’ Journeys page soon – be sure to visit the page to learn more about their innovations, achievements and best practice examples.

All GO Awards Scotland Winners qualify for automatic finalist status at the GO Awards National, to be held on 22 April at the Hilton Metropole Hotel, Birmingham. The GO Awards National bring together winners from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with new entries from across the UK. Entries will open soon – why not share your procurement success story?

Congratulations to all this year’s Award winners!

Photographs 1, 2, 4, 5, 6: www.scottishphotographer.com

The Queen’s Speech, October 2019

Yesterday saw the Queen’s Speech mark the opening of a new session of Parliament. While the UK’s departure from the EU, and precisely what the terms of this might be, are inevitably at the forefront of discussion, several other key points affecting various sectors were also addressed. The Government’s proposed measures surrounding criminal justice have generated the most headlines, but away from the newspapers, the proposed Serious Violence Bill would affect many areas of the public sector. The Bill would develop a local approach to tackling violent crime through sharing relevant data and information between organisations across local government, education, social services, healthcare and the criminal justice system. As ever, effective technology and data across the public sector would be central to this.

The Speech also included mention of several documents the Government aims to publish later in the year or in 2020, including the National Infrastructure Strategy and a whitepaper on devolution in England with the aim of stimulating regional growth. Here, we consider some of the other major announcements in the areas of most interest to BiP’s customers.

Healthcare

With Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly stressing the importance of the NHS recently, it is unsurprising that healthcare was one of the key areas addressed in the Queen’s Speech. The Speech stressed a commitment to implementing the NHS Long Term Plan, as well as revisions to the provision of social care and mental health services. Also announced was the establishment of the Health Service Safety Investigation Body, a world-first independent tasked with investigating incidents that occur during the provision of NHS services that have, or may have, implications for the safety of patients.

You can read more about the implications of the Queen’s Speech for the healthcare sector on Health Online, our dedicated healthcare community and news site.

Technology

In addition to as-yet unspecified legislation to “roll out gigabit-capable broadband across the UK” with the aim of “boosting productivity” and “driving innovation in our public services”, the Queen’s Speech stressed the Government’s commitment to “establishing the United Kingdom as a world-leader in scientific capability and space technology.” As well as to-be-confirmed plans to boost public research and development (R&D) funding – going towards a stated aim for 2.4% of GDP to be spent on R&D by 2027 – the Government has pledged the establishment of a new National Space Council and the launch of a comprehensive UK Space Strategy. Further details about the MOD’s current planned space programme have been covered by Defence Online here and here.  The Government has also stated that a new fast-track immigration scheme for world-leading scientists and researchers will help significantly enhance the intellectual and knowledge base of the UK. How this will fit alongside the Government’s wider immigration reforms and strategy will be clarified.

Environmental impact

The proposed Environment Bill would introduce “legally-binding targets” and “mandatory biodiversity protections,” which would ensure that construction projects, including new housing, is not build at the expense of biodiversity – as demonstrated by previous projects such as Highways England’s recent A66 project and the review of the deforestation that could be caused by HS2. Further measures would include looking at air and water quality, single-use plastic and effective recycling and litter reduction. These measures further demonstrate the importance of sustainable practices throughout business.

Brexit Update: September 2019

Brexit has dominated the news over the past three years, and this shows no signs of abating.

The current deadline for the UK to exit the European Union (EU) is 31 October, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been categorical in his position that the UK will leave the European Union on this date – either with or without a deal.

Our latest Brexit report describes the key areas where future business opportunities will lie – should Brexit go through on 31 October.

Download your copy of this free report here.

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