Friday, 17 October 2014
Social Clauses in Public Procurement Bill 2013: Second Stage [Private Members]
Who is to know?
The Minister of State, Deputy Simon Harris, mentioned the Grangegorman project, which is, in many ways, the flagship project of this Administration and located in the heart of my constituency in Dublin's inner city. It is a large-scale project and there has been much disquiet locally among unemployed people, those hoping to complete apprenticeships and small local businesses as they feel ostracised from the State's largest public investment project. As I understood a meet-the-buyer event might focus on the project, will the Minister of State advise me as to whether that is still the case?
The issue of SMEs accessing contracts is broader than the concept of social clauses and related to things we have discussed here for a very long time such as unbundling contracts and turnover thresholds. It goes beyond anxiety about social clauses because all of the SMEs I know of are important in their local communities. I have never detected resistance from SMEs to the concept of social clauses - I think SMEs find that such clauses complement their relationships with local communities. The major issue is that SMEs tend to find that the scale of a contract is too big - the same applies to lots. When the turnover requirement is too high, they cannot even tender for, much less win, the contract. We must focus on this element and get it right.