Angela Rayner to open conference with pledge to end Tory “procurement racket”

Elliot Chappell

Angela Rayner will open Labour’s annual conference with a promise to end “the Tories’ procurement racket run at the expense of British taxpayers” and create jobs and boost growth under a new ‘national procurement plan’.

In her opening speech to the annual gathering of delegates on Sunday, the deputy leader will set out plans to maximise post-Brexit opportunities with a pledge that all public procurement spending will be used to foster jobs, skills and regeneration.

Commenting ahead of the speech, Rayner said: “Labour’s national procurement plan will support British enterprise, drive up standards and deliver for our communities.

“Our value for money guarantee will ensure every penny of public procurement spend will be guided by the national interest to support the return of local jobs, skills and wealth-building and give small and medium enterprises a fair chance to benefit.”

Unveiling the new procurement plan, Rayner argued that the party will “unleash the power of procurement for the public good” and said “there will be no hiding place for cronies and no corner for corruption”. The party has said the plan will:

  1. “Reward businesses and enterprises that create local jobs, skills and wealth, treat their workers right and pay their taxes responsibly;
  2. “Give small and medium (SMEs) businesses fairer opportunities to benefit;
  3. “Get tough on waste with suppliers who repeatedly fail to deliver seeing public money clawed back and ploughed straight back into local communities – and failed providers struck off;
  4. “Guarantee transparency for taxpayers about how their money is spent through a publicly-accessible dashboard of government contracts tracking delivery and performance; and
  5. “Oversee the biggest wave of insourcing in a generation.”

“The Tories have left a legacy of sleaze, cronyism and corruption, with the British people left to pick up the bill,” the deputy Labour leader added today.

“We’ll give the Tory sleaze merchants their marching orders, end handouts to tax havens and strike off failed providers. The Tories’ policy of rewarding failure will be brought to an end. We’ll clawback taxpayer’s money and plough it straight back into communities to support the people who build the wealth in this country.”

The Department of Health and Social Care spent almost £9bn on personal protective equipment that was either substandard, defective, past its use-by date or overpriced, according to its own accounts published earlier this year.

The party said its ‘Office for Value for Money, which Rachel Reeves first proposed establishing at the 2021 Labour conference, will have “real teeth” to clamp down on wastes of taxpayers’ money with ‘clawback clauses’ in contract design.

The Labour Party plans to make social value mandatory in all contracts under its new national procurement plan and require ministers to report back to the Cabinet Office and parliament on how departmental suppliers are meeting these values.

Labour has also said it will ensure that smaller contracts include an SME at shortlisting, and plans to tackle late payments by reviewing and writing the prompt payment code into law.

Its pledge to “oversee the biggest wave of insourcing in a generation” will be accompanied by a mandate that procurement officers for government contracts show that work could not be better delivered in house before tendering.

The TUC’s Frances O’Grady welcomed the “much needed” proposals from Labour, arguing that “outsourcing has been a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money and led to a race to the bottom on workers’ pay and conditions”.

“In sectors like social care – where outsourcing has been used on an industrial scale – services have been run on the cheap and frontline care staff are underpaid and badly treated,” the TUC general secretary added.

“Any organisation or company awarded public contracts must treat their workers fairly and deliver for service users. Under the Conservatives the public purse has been abused to line the pockets of bad bosses.”

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