In January 2023, the government’s new Procurement Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons. It was then sent to a Public Bill Committee, which will scrutinise the legislation and report back to the Commons. The Bill has the potential to open up significant procurement opportunities for SMEs. In this article, we look at what the Procurement Bill aims to do and how it could benefit your business.
What is the Procurement Bill?
The Procurement Bill is designed to make government procurement simpler and more flexible. It is using the post-Brexit opportunity that allows the UK to determine its own procurement rules. Currently, more than 350 rules govern public spending in the European Union. The Bill aims to simplify the public spending rules we have inherited. Most crucially, the Bill will make it easier for SMEs to win more of the £300 billion of goods, services and works the government pays for each year.
The Bill also simplifies procurement rules to help government procure quickly in emergency situations. A good example would be if there were another pandemic, such as the one we recently experienced. The new rules will allow contracting authorities to source and buy goods quickly and transparently.
Another major change will mean that government will be able to exclude suppliers who have previously underperformed. The new rules will also allow the exclusion of UK and overseas suppliers who are involved in modern slavery.
What does the Procurement Bill mean for SMEs?
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jeremy Quin has said:
“…by ending the complicated web of rules and regulations inherited from the EU to even bid for public sector work, we will ensure smaller companies are better able to bring their drive, ingenuity and innovation to Government.”
To achieve this, the following provisions are being written into the Bill to help remove barriers to SMEs.
- Greater visibility of upcoming contracts – allowing SMEs more time to prepare bids.
- A new central platform that lists work in each region of the country.
- A single website to register on, replacing the multiple systems currently in place.
- Slashing insurance costs needed even before bidding for a contract.
- A new ‘Competitive Flexible’ procedure. This will allow bidders to design more innovation into the process. This is intended to benefit smaller tech start-ups.
- Ensuring prompt payment so contracted businesses get paid within 30 days.
The recent pandemic showed the government the importance of being able to procure quickly. Normally, the tendering process takes 30 days. However, the new Bill will allow government to procure faster in emergency situations. It will achieve this by introducing faster competition processes for emergency buying.
How does the current system work?
The current procurement system is rather more complicated than the reforms in the Bill. However, these are currently the key places to start if you want to bid for a public sector contract.
- Contracts Finder – for contracts in England worth more than £12,000
- Find a Tender – for contracts in England worth more than £118,000
- Public Contracts Scotland – for Scottish contracts
- Sell2Wales – for contracts in Wales
- eSourcing NI – for tenders in Northern Ireland
- eTenders NI – another service for Northern Ireland
I need help preparing a tender. Can you help?
Yes, if you need help preparing financial information for a tender such as your accounts, please get in touch. One of our accountants would be delighted to help you.
About Jon Pryse-Jones
Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.
An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”
Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board. “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says. He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.