Quarter of Scottish Government contracts worth £3.2bn go to companies outside Scotland
The figures come as the SNP is accused by unionist opposition parties of failing to use the powers available to them through Holyrood to support Scottish businesses.
In total, 735 contracts awarded by the Scottish Government went to companies outside of Scotland in the past five years – around 25 per cent of the 2,987 contracts handed out since the SNP were re-elected in 2016.
A further 39 contracts were awarded to companies outside the UK, a Freedom of Information request revealed.
The total value of all contracts awarded by the Scottish Government during the last parliamentary session is just over £3.2bn.
A quarter of that total value would be equivalent to more than £789m worth of Scottish Government work being sent outside of Scotland.
In August last year, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross announced a plan for a “Scotland First” procurement system that would see local businesses given priority around contract decisions through small tweaks of existing rules.
However, the plans were described as “utterly hollow” by the SNP.
Scottish Labour’s finance spokesperson Daniel Johnson said Scottish Labour would also attempt to “keep those opportunities” in Scotland.
The candidate for Edinburgh Southern said his party would use the Scottish National Investment Bank to invest and help existing companies diversify or create new local supply chains.
He said: “The SNP have failed to use the powers they have to support Scottish businesses.
"A public sector should be for public good and Scottish Labour would go further to keep those opportunities in the Scottish economy.
"Scotland deserves a local first approach to procurement, with support tied to our Good Work criteria and would promote cooperative business models.
“Our Better Business Scotland certification would give recognition to the businesses committed to the living wage, net zero Scotland, and no zero-hours contracts.”
The Scottish Government’s annual procurement report for 2020 states that of its £369m spend, £120m went to small or medium-sized businesses, with £30m going to Scottish small and medium-sized businesses through supply chains.
An SNP spokesperson said: “Under the SNP, the majority of Scottish government contracts – over 75 per cent – have gone to Scottish companies. The SNP will always work to ensure – where it is possible – that the building of new infrastructure and the implementation of projects and policies in Scotland benefit the people and the businesses of Scotland.
"Unlike the Tories at Westminster, we take into account wider economic considerations such as supply chain benefits, not just the price.
"But there will be instances – as with all countries – that we have to award contracts to businesses outside of Scotland in order to deliver the best service or development possible in the allotted time. This is down to a range of factors such as businesses simply being unable to carry out certain tasks, or not having the capacity to undertake them at all or within the timeframe."
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