The maritime sector sees huge potential opportunity in reviewing the existing rules around government procurement.
Where an acquisition strategy is to be based on an international competition, the concept of a level playing field must be assured so that the competition is unambiguously transparent and fair. What constitutes a level playing field needs to be tautly defined and should take account of those factors imposed on UK manufacturers, facilities and service businesses, all of which contribute inherently to greater costs and an unwelcome bias in the market.
Consideration should also be given to the level playing field concept over the life of the project. This does not mean we seek a diminution of regulation and standards and we would applaud the concept of a balanced scorecard for the assessment of value for money which must address not just the narrow procurement costs but the wider socio-economic benefits to the overall UK economy in a genuinely quantifiable manner.
The importance of nurturing the UK supply chain so that the generation of innovation, much trumpeted by the Government, must become a reality, especially for SMEs. The Government needs to redefine value for money to include the creation of UK prosperity and the sustainment of UK supply chain health. A threshold should be established, in percentage terms of the overall contract cost, for a significant total of the overall value to be placed with companies, especially SMEs, in the UK supply chain and this should be rigorously enforced. The utilisation of government procurement to drive innovation should be adopted as a baseline requirement in public sector contracts.
Maritime UK calls upon Government to demonstrate its commitment to ensuring future seafaring generations through doubling the levels of Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) funding available and supporting the new SMarT plus proposals, as set out by industry and the unions.
Creating a highly skilled workforce which reflects the needs of the industry now and into the future and enabling young people to build rewarding life-long careers is our united vision and Government must work proactively to support the industry if this ambition is to be met. The social protections gained through EU membership should be maintained to ensure that leaving the EU does not mean a weakening of rights and protections for British workers, including seafarers.
The maritime sector welcomes the development of an industrial strategy, has responded to the government consultation, and is considering areas of focus for sector deal bids. Given maritime’s strategic importance to the UK, government must support these bids.
The Tonnage Tax should be reviewed to ensure it remains amongst the best fiscal frameworks on offer internationally and remains fit for purpose in achieving its objective of growing the UK controlled fleet and expanding our maritime skills base. We also continue to push for a shipbuilding strategy that benefits the wide range of highly skilled vessel manufactures in the UK.