Brexit having been delivered, Britain as a sovereign nation now has the right to establish its own rules for public procurement rather than follow the pernickety rules of the European Union.
The European Union rules on public procurement were negotiated over many years to protect the single EU market, to ensure that businesses in all member states were able to bid for public sector contracts on the same basis as all the competition. The Government believes that there is now scope for some flexibility to favour British businesses in some cases.
The Queens Speech contained confirmation that the Government will introduce new laws “to simplify procurement in the public sector”. This will make it “quicker, simpler and better able to meet the country’s needs while remaining compliant with our international obligations”. In future, public procurement will be more accessible for new entrants such as small businesses and voluntary, charitable and social enterprises to compete for and win public contracts.
The main benefits of the forthcoming Bill will be:
- Harnessing the billions that the Government spends every year on public procurement to support Government priorities to level up and spread opportunity across the country.
- Embedding transparency throughout the commercial lifecycle from planning to procurement, contract award, and performance evaluation. Procurement data will be published in a standard, open format, so that it is more accessible to anyone.
- Making UK procurement rules more modern, flexible, innovative and diverse, by allowing the Government to consider wider social value when picking suppliers so that taxpayers’ money goes further and has more of a wider benefit for society including the creation of new jobs and skills to drive economic growth.
- Consolidating the 350+ regulations governing public procurement and creating a single, uniform framework, including for defence procurement, to allow more freedom for the public and private sectors to innovate and work in partnership in public service delivery.
The main elements of the Bill are:
- Enshrining in law the principles of public procurement such as: value for money, public benefit, transparency, integrity, fair treatment of suppliers and nondiscrimination.
- Overhauling the complex and inflexible procurement procedures and replacing them with three simple, modern procedures. This will allow the public sector more scope to negotiate with potential suppliers to deliver innovative new solutions.
- Requiring buyers to have regard to the Government’s strategic priorities for public procurement as set out in a new National Procurement Policy Statement.
- Introducing procurement processes that allow contracting authorities to buy at pace, for serious situations that are declared a crisis, with strengthened safeguards for transparency.
- Establishing a single data platform for supplier registration that ensures suppliers only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement.
- Tackling unacceptable behaviour such as supplier fraud through new exclusion rules and giving buyers the tools to properly take account of a bidder’s past performance.
- Reforming the process for challenging procurement decisions to speed up the review system and make it more accessible and capping the level of damages available to bidders in order to reduce the attractiveness of speculative claims.
With decades’ of experience working to secure market access for third and commercial sector clients, Whitehouse Communications team will be closely engaged in the development of the new procurement regime.
The Whitehouse Communications team are experts in providing public affairs advice and political consultancy to a wide range of clients, especially skills and training providers, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union and beyond. For more information, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at email@example.com.