No more race to the bottom public contracts says MEP

“Public contracts must become a way for the Government and local councils to advance social goals- that means granting contracts to bidders who offer high standards and quality, not racing to the bottom,” said Labour’s Glenis Willmott today after her amendments calling for changes were passed in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) today..

Glenis Willmott, who is Leader of the Labour MEPs, said: “Public authorities shouldn’t simply grant major contracts to the cut-rate bidder. To get the best value-for-money for the taxpayer, they should take into account the social, economic, health and environmental impacts of each tender.”

The amendments tabled by Glenis Willmott and others will remove the ‘cut-price’ option from the European Union’s new procurement legislation. MEPs on the committee want social, economic and environmental criteria to be considered in all contracts – unlike the recent Thameslink deal, which was awarded on lowest price alone.

“We must ensure that, in future, authorities do not find themselves in a situation where they have to choose the cheapest option despite important social and environmental considerations. That can turn out to be costly in the long run,” she said.

The UK’s Conservative MEPs on the ENVI committee voted to reject these amendments and to continue to allow public contracts to go to the cheapest bidders.

“By opposing our amendments, the Conservatives have supported ‘on-the-cheap’ public contracting. They would enable Governments and local councils to exploit public contracts and ignore important social and environmental issues.

“The Conservatives’ lowest-cost approach could also lead us to another Thameslink situation – where the Government chooses the cut-price bidder even when there are other important factors.”

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