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Scottish Budget 2018

Against the backdrop of uncertainty caused by the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has delivered the 2018 Scottish Budget (December 12th).

Describing it as a “fair and progressive budget” Derek Mackay presented a business-friendly package, while placing the protection of public services at the heart of this Budget Statement.

Below you can find a breakdown of key Scottish Budget 2018 figures in addition to which public sector opportunities await your industry.

SME

A £50 million ‘Town Centre Fund’ will provide much needed support for Scotland’s high streets. There will also be a cap put on business rates below inflation, providing a tax cut for small businesses, which Mackay described as “the most generous system anywhere in the UK”. The partnership between the private sector and the Scottish Government has played an important role in recent years, which was championed by the Cabinet Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills Jamie Hepburn MSP at Procurex Scotland, in which he encouraged businesses to consider the welfare of local communities and the environment, calling on suppliers to “not be risk averse”.

Housing

An investment of £825 million -as part of an overall fund of £3 billion- will help deliver 50,000 affordable homes over the course of this parliament, which has been the cornerstone of Housing Minister Kevin Stewart’s construction agenda.

Education

Describing education as the Scottish Government’s “defining mission”, the Finance Secretary set out bold new proposals for Scottish schools. £180m will be used to close the attainment gap, including £120m, which will be directed towards headteacher budgets through ‘Pupil Equity Funding’. £600m will also be given to colleges and £1 billion has been secured for Scotland’s world-class universities. £214m has been set aside for apprenticeships and skills; providing a gateway in to employment for many of Scotland’s young people.

Healthcare

An increase of £730m will be provided to NHS Scotland, which is the equivalent to hiring 19,000 nurses, as Derek Mackay confirmed “health is a top priority for the government”, which accounts for almost half of the Scottish Government’s overall spending.

Local Government

The Scottish Government will provide “a real terms increase in the total local government settlement of over £210m” Mackay said, taking the local government budget to £11.1 billion. This will be welcome news for Fife Council executive director Keith Winter, who was a keynote speaker at Procurex Scotland, where he championed “social justice” as he encouraged councillors to adopt a global strategy moving forward.

Autumn Statement Procurement Top Tips

Autumn Statement

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s recent Autumn Statement offered new routes to leveraging business growth. Here, BiP Solutions journalist Julie Shennan gives 5 top tips for procurement actions to optimise your Autumn Statement opportunities.

With £23 billion of additional government spending pledged in Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s recent Autumn Statement via the new National Productivity Investment Fund, fresh pipelines of work have been outlined in areas such as infrastructure, housing, transport, defence, exports, R&D, oil and gas, communications and media.

Whatever your business sector, the Autumn Statement contains information that you can leverage to cut costs and open up new business opportunities. Here are 5 top tips for post-Autumn Statement good procurement practice.

1. Browse Business Breaks

Every year the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives business financial breaks via the likes of Corporation Tax cuts and business rates relief. These breaks often come with caveats that make them applicable to some businesses but not others; however, it is worth checking if your business qualifies so you can adjust your budget.

Also worth noting is that with each business break there usually comes a time frame for its implementation or a time limit on its duration. For example, in his Autumn Statement 2016 Mr Hammond pledged to cut Corporation Tax to 17% by 2020, suggesting that it may drop incrementally over the next few years.

2. Find Funding

Likewise, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement often announces funding opportunities for UK business growth, to stimulate things like innovation, local economies and overseas trade. This year the Chancellor pledged £400 million through the British Business Bank to invest in innovative small businesses with potential for growth.

Now that these funding opportunities have been announced, businesses that qualify and are interested should waste no time in contacting the British Business Bank to start their application. Fortune favours the brave, and awarding bodies will not knock on doors offering funding.

3. Utilise U-Turns

Just as suppliers should be diligent in checking the recent Autumn Statement for relevant new announcements, they should also check it for any U-turns on business breaks or funding pledged in previous years.

Each year brings new circumstances and challenges that can force policy U-turns, not least when there has been a change of government. Yet one supplier’s curse is often another supplier’s blessing as the scrapping of relief or funding in one area can lead to that assistance being rechanneled into another.

4. Pursue Pipelines

Arguably the most valuable business information in this year’s Autumn Statement is to be found in the new pipelines of work announced by the Chancellor. These pipelines vary from the rather open ‘£800 million to the Scottish Government for infrastructure projects’ to the more specific ‘£7.6 million for urgent and essential repairs to Wentworth Woodhouse heritage house in South Yorkshire’.

Now that the Autumn Statement has been announced, suppliers should research it for pipelines within their sectors and geographical areas of operation, bearing in mind that some sector pipelines – such as those in construction – have a trickle-down effect into others. For instance, a pipeline for building repairs might also bring security services opportunities to guard the building while the repairs are made.

After identifying a potential future pipeline of work, suppliers should then scan the procurement horizon for this work being put out to tender. This can be done by using a contracts finder service, checking national or local authority contract portals, monitoring news stories, or attending council meetings and networking events.

For best practice guidance on finding contracts, read The Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts, Chapter 4.

5. Contact Contractors

Every now and then an Autumn Statement or Budget goes one step further, not only outlining new pipelines of work but also announcing the Tier 1 contractors who will be running them. For instance, in his Autumn Statement 2016 the Chancellor detailed that £850,000 would be awarded to a Royal Society of the Arts project to promote cultural education in schools. Once the Tier 1 contractor’s name is divulged then suppliers should strike up pre-tender conversations, to establish the scope of sub-contracts available.

Best practice guidance on pre-tender networking can be found in The Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts, Chapter 9.

For more information on government opportunities, visit the BiP Solutions Resources page.

The Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts launches

Ultimate Guide pic

In response to UK government procurement reform, BiP Solutions has thrown a lifeline to those seeking public sector business by releasing its Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts.

The Ultimate Guide starts by explaining the scale of the public sector marketplace and the financial gains it has to offer businesses of all types and sizes. It then explains the preparation work that suppliers must do before bidding for contracts, as well as the practical steps involved in the various stages of the bidding process.

Not content to leave suppliers hanging, the Ultimate Guide goes further to explain what action can be taken after a bid, should an unsuccessful applicant seek further information. With jargon busters, top tips and graphs, the website appeals to a variety of users, from procurement novices to experts.

Procurement expertise is something that BiP Solutions has honed over 31 years; the company’s offering includes procurement services, portals, exhibitions and training. Now the Ultimate Guide is adding to these resources, linking private sector suppliers with public sector buyers.

Public sector buying is key to the private sector, as it is estimated some £263bn per annum is spent on procurement across the UK public sector.

And no company is too small to benefit from this business, as the UK government has an ongoing drive to involve SMEs in its supply chain, resulting in 27.1% of central government buying (between 2014-15) being with small businesses.

BiP Solutions itself reflects this success, as the SME has a history of winning public sector contracts, including with the 2012 Olympic Games, the Department for Communities and Local Government, Education Scotland and the Home Office.

Keen to spread this good fortune, BiP Solutions’ COO Simon Burges urged suppliers to read the Ultimate Guide.

He said: “For over three decades BiP Solutions has built its procurement expertise, and connected suppliers with public sector buyers.

“These connections have been developed through BiP products, services and events, which map the procurement landscape.

“Now, mapping this landscape, BiP is proud to launch the Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts. This guide will take suppliers step by step through the tender process, providing comprehensive advice in laymen’s terms.

“The Ultimate Guide is a complimentary publication that reaches out and offers suppliers an insight into BiP’s marketplace knowledge. This knowledge has never been more relevant to suppliers as local government devolution and central government transparency measures are opening up an increasing number of public sector contracts.

“With this in mind, I would urge suppliers to go onto the Ultimate Guide website and read its vital advice.”

Senior PASS (Procurement Advice and Support Service) Consultant Eddie Regan added: “Contractors, whether micro businesses or multi-nationals, can never learn enough about the public procurement rules and regulations. Success is driven by knowledge and hopefully many will find the Ultimate Guide a useful step on the journey to success.”

GET YOUR FREE COPY HERE