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Calm seas or choppy waters? The role of procurement in supporting fair work

Findlay, Patricia (2017) Calm seas or choppy waters? The role of procurement in supporting fair work. Fraser of Allander Economic Commentary, 41 (1). pp. 38-45. ISSN 2046-5378

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Abstract

Fair work is now firmly on the political agenda in Scotland and there is ongoing debate about how best to drive it. After considering the policy context in which debates on fair work have emerged, and examining the Scottish approach to fair work, this article considers the role of public procurement as a lever of fair work. While not focussing in any depth on the procurement of lifeline ferry services, the arguments presented here are relevant to any competitive tendering process for these services. This article argues that recent statutory guidance illustrates the potential of procurement to support fair work due to the impact of fair work on the quality of service provision and its role in delivering economically advantageous outcomes. While there may be medium term changes to the procurement environment post-Brexit, devolution of responsibility for procurement means that scope to support fair work should remain in relatively calm waters, so long as there is political will to use procurement creatively for this important purpose.