Significant procurement reform is set for 2023, with the introduction of the Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Bill (the SPPP Bill). We consider why the Welsh Government has chosen to introduce legislation in relation to social partnerships and socially responsible public procurement as opposed to following a non-statutory approach.
This question has been posed to the Deputy Minister of Social Partnership, Hannah Blythyn as well as Nisreen Mansour from the Wales Trades Union Congress. It seems that the fundamental reasons to introduce primary legislation include:
- To complement existing legislation, specifically the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, with an aim to improve the economic, environmental, social and cultural well-being of Wales.
- To strengthen the effectiveness of social partnership arrangements in Wales and embed the principle of social partnership (i.e. working with shared values and a common purpose) in the operation of public bodies. For example, placing new duties on public bodies to engage with trade unions.
- To help ensure accountability and that good practice is widespread.
- To deliver a more consistent and coherent approach as without legislation, it is widely believed that it would be difficult to establish a social partnership system and council.
Overall, existing social partnership arrangements in Wales have developed organically and voluntarily. They are not currently supported by a common framework. The Welsh Government considers that unless the social partnership approach has a statutory underpinning, there are limitations on improving how public service delivery and well-being can be coordinated. It seems that the aim of implementing legislation is to therefore provide a clearer purpose to achieve maximum impact of social partnership arrangements in Wales.