The UK will see one of the largest shake-ups to its procurement rules following a landmark Procurement Bill which has become an Act of Parliament. The Act will come into force in October 2024 and will streamline the way that companies bid for public contracts, while also giving procurers more room for negotiating prices and innovative solutions.
The new rules will deliver simpler, more effective public sector procurement, and help SMEs secure a greater share of approximately £300bn of expenditure per year. It is hoped that these changes will deliver better value for money, slash red tape, drive innovation, and make it easier for suppliers of all sizes to do business with the public sector.
An important aim of the new procurement process is to lower the entry bar and encourage more diversity of supply and innovation. An area of the Act that will be of specific interest to SMEs is the new requirement for buyers to assess the barriers that face smaller businesses throughout the entire procurement lifecycle and consider what can be done to overcome them.
An example of this is insurance, where procurement processes can unfairly penalise businesses that lack the resources of larger suppliers. Contracting authorities must now accept evidence that required insurance cover will be in place when a contract is awarded, rather than at the point of bidding. It’s hoped that this will save businesses from having to incur unnecessary upfront costs prior to the awarding of a contract.
The Act will also increase powers to protect the security in our supply chains and procurement. This includes steps such as creating a National Security Unit for Procurement and giving powers to prevent suppliers from bidding for certain products where there is a risk to national security. It will enable high-risk suppliers to be put on a public debarment list and be prevented from bidding for some categories of goods or services, such as areas related to defence and national security while allowing them to continue to bid for contracts in non-sensitive areas.
Other significant changes to the procurement process include making it easier to exclude suppliers from bidding for contracts if they’ve performed badly on previous contracts or based on the grounds of modern slavery or professional misconduct. It will also introduce clearer and faster competition processes in emergency situations, such as during health pandemics, which will help contracting authorities to act quickly and transparently to buy vital goods.
These changes are likely to lead to a significant increase in the number of businesses that are able to bid for public sector contracts and lead to a number of positive changes to existing procurement functions.
As experts within the procurement market, Concept is well placed to help businesses that are looking to build their existing teams to take advantage of these new opportunities. We can help source and attract highly skilled procurement specialists with experience working in the public sector who can help drive and grow new business.
If you’re a procurement specialist wanting to take advantage of the new opportunities within the procurement market, talk to us about how we can help you make your next career move.