Sustainable Procurement Tools


Public procurement plays an important role in the Europe 2020 strategy. It is recognised in the European Commission’s communication ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ as one of the market-based tools to be used to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth while making the most efficient use of public funds. This has guided the new Public Procurement Directives with a view to do the following:  

  • make public spending more efficient
  • offer opportunities to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • help procurement professionals to make better use of public procurement to support the common goals of:
      •    smart growth – developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation
      •    sustainable growth – promoting a more efficient, greener and competitive economy
      •    inclusive growth – promoting high employment levels to achieve economic, social and territorial cohesion


Public spending is increasingly expected to provide more and more value for money. Through compliance with the sustainable procurement duty, we aim to imbed sustainability into and generate maximum value for local communities from our procurement activities. Community benefit requirements are one way in which public bodies can contribute to the delivery of national outcomes and indicators within the National Performance Framework. This is now part of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Legal context

The sustainable procurement duty is part of the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 and includes a requirement for contracting authorities to consider how they can improve economic, social and environmental wellbeing through regulated procurements and to act in a way to secure this. 

A community benefit requirement is one of a range of social clauses which can be included in public contracts that are compatible with EU Treaty Principles and law. Community benefits in procurement are defined by the Procurement Reform (Scotland) Act 2014 as: 

‘a contractual requirement imposed by a contracting authority (a) relating to:

(i) training and recruitment, or

(ii) the availability of sub-contracting opportunities, or,

(b) which is otherwise intended to improve the economic, social or environmental wellbeing of the authority's area in a way additional to the main purpose of the contract in which the requirement is included.’ 

Specifically to the enhancement of communities, the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 has strengthened the focus on this. In particular, the following three major elements of the 2015 Act are important: 

  • the strengthening of community planning to give communities more of a say in how public services are to be planned and provided. The 2015 Act formalises community planning partnerships or all local authorities. These partnerships deliver local outcomes and involve communities at all stages 
  • new rights enabling communities to identify needs and issues and request action to be taken on these
  • the extension of the community right to buy or otherwise have greater control over assets

Designated community planning partners must now include the whole range of public services that engage and work with communities. Partners include colleges, Police Scotland, health boards, enterprise agencies such as Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Historic Environment Scotland, health and social care integration joint boards, national park authorities, regional strategic bodies in further and higher education, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Sports Council, Skills Development Scotland, regional transport partnerships and Visit Scotland.

Community planning partnerships will be required to develop, publish and report annually on a local outcomes improvement plan (LOIP), which replaces the former single outcome agreement.