Scotland’s got the S factor

Unlike the X factor, the S factor can be defined — we just hesitate to do it because it’s got such narrow connotations. You hear it and assumptions are made; nuggets of value are missed.Procurex

We’re talking about sustainability — but not just in a sooty carbon-footprinted way.

It’s so much wider than that. We’re talking about how the Scottish Government and BT are finding ways to reduce costs in the public sector while boosting the economy at the same time using sustainable economic development — an approach that demonstrates a possible way forward for all public sector bodies across the UK.

Let’s run through the conundrum faced by the Scottish Government (and shared by all public sector bodies in the UK): dramatic public sector budget cuts mean urgent savings must be found in order to protect front-line services as much as possible. But the Scottish Government also needs to help its economy survive and thrive by protecting and nurturing the businesses that provide regional jobs and services.

The Scottish Government has already taken steps to centralise procurement and has introduced central framework contracts to provide services on a long-term basis to the whole of the Scottish public sector in exchange for lower prices and improved collaboration. And these are an effective way to improve the way services are delivered as well as reducing costs. For example, BT has identified that the Government could save £35m a year by rationalising their 120 separate WANs.

But the Scottish Government are taking this further and have made a commitment to spend public money in a way that helps to sustain economic development in Scotland.

Recently, at Procurex Scotland (the leading event for people engaged within Scotland’s public procurement process) Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment announced Government plans to bring forward a sustainability procurement bill during the 2012-13 parliamentary session. This will introduce a community benefit clause to Scottish public sector procurement, recognising the role that supplying companies have and the contributions they make to the communities they serve.

This will make sure that their centralised procurement process and framework contracts award realistic business deals to companies showing a commitment to Scotland. As one of 10 organisations in the framework contract to provide IT managed services to the Scottish public sector, BT is proud that its credentials for trading in Scotland are recognised: investment in services; a significant footprint across the region; an ongoing commitment to Scotland as a base and to providing jobs within the regional economy; and an ethos of growing talent through its popular apprenticeship scheme.

The beauty of this arrangement is that it’s sustainable on all sides:

Scottish public services make savings thanks to centralised procurement becoming more efficient, reducing waste and getting better deals due to strategic negotiation.
Suppliers can survive as profit-making businesses in Scotland and continue to make valuable contributions to the region.
The Scottish people benefit since public money works doubly hard — meeting service needs and fuelling the local economy.

Martin Mulholland, BT’s Client Director for Scottish Government comments, “BT is a major employer in Scotland with close to10, 000 people working here, including those on our very popular apprentice programme, so it’s important we support the Scottish Government as much as we can. We’re committed to supporting the regional economy so we’ve been talking to various public sector bodies about how to deliver better services for less money, and how, by working with us through the managed framework, they are making cost savings at the same time as they are supporting the community and economic involvement we have in Scotland.”

The S factor in action: public sector services delivered differently, delivered better and delivered cost-effectively — helping to sustain economic development in Scotland.

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