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Cabinet Office

Outlined by the Cabinet Office, new plans to overhaul procurement rules, cutting red tape and making it easier for smaller businesses to win government contracts have been launched.

The UK Government has published a new green paper – ‘Transforming public procurement’ – that sets out proposed changes to the UK’s procurement rules, putting value for money and transparency at the heart of the new approach.

The measures, which have been developed over the last 14 months by a team of specialists in international procurement and set out in a green paper, take advantage of new powers now that the UK has left the European Union.

Changes to current procurement rules intend to help SMEs win government contracts by removing complex regulations and allowing buyers to exclude suppliers who have failed to deliver contracts in the past.

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Commissioning is the process by which health and care services are planned, purchased and monitored. This process covers a range of activities, including assessing needs, planning services, procuring services and monitoring quality. As well as providing services in-house, public sector organisations can also contract providers to deliver a suitable service to individuals, such as community equipment services or wheelchair services.

Part of the commissioning process is procurement, which, in the healthcare sector, is defined as the purchase of goods and services by a public sector organisation from another, external organisation. Essentially, procurement means doing the shopping for items that will meet the healthcare needs of a particular area.

The green paper states: “The Government wants to open up public procurement to a more diverse supply base, making it easier for new entrants such as small businesses and voluntary, charitable and social enterprises to compete and win public contracts. We want bidding for public sector contracts to be simpler, with procedures that are quicker and cheaper to participate in and information on contracts easier to find.”

According to the UK Government, every year, it buys around £292 billion of services from the private sector. It says that the new measures will transform the current procurement process by allowing more flexibility for buyers.

“This will also drive increased competition through much simpler procurement procedures,” the UK Government adds.

“The changes will make UK procurement rules more modern, flexible, innovative and diverse, by allowing government to consider wider social value when picking suppliers. This will ensure that taxpayers money goes further and has more of a wider benefit for society.”

In another new move, the government will allow the public sector to buy British for contracts not subject to international trade rules, by allowing competitions for government contracts under £4.7million for public works and £122k for goods and services to be limited to small businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprises, or to a certain geographical area.

These new rules will support SMEs by opening up new opportunities to them and making it easier for them to win contracts, in turn helping to drive local growth, promote innovation, support local recruitment and level up communities across the UK.

Specific changes to the rules proposed include:

  • Removing over 300 complex regulations to create a single uniform rulebook
  • Overhauling inflexible and complex procedures, replacing them with three simple modern procedures. This will allow more freedom for suppliers and the public sector to work together and innovate
  • Allowing buyers to include wider social benefits of the supplier, such as economic, social and environmental factors, when assessing who to award a contract to, while also still considering value for money
  • Giving buyers the power to properly take account of a bidder’s past performance, allowing them to exclude suppliers who have failed to deliver in the past
  • A new unit to oversee public procurement with powers to improve commercial skills of public sector contractors
  • A single digital platform for registering contracts, improving transparency and making life significantly simpler for business

The plans will also make procurement more transparent and effective during times of crisis where government needs to act quickly to ensure vital goods and services are bought, the government highlights. Furthermore, the new measures will bring more competition into this process by changing the rules to encourage more competitive buying in a quick time frame.

Importantly, awarding authorities will also be encouraged to consider how public contracts can support social or environmental issues or promote local communities, small businesses and charities. The rules will provide more flexibility to allow contractors to take account of wider government priorities and support work to build back better from the pandemic.

Current procurement regulations, the government notes, allow contracting authorities to take into account the past performance of a supplier on only very limited grounds and commercial teams often have to rely on bidders’ self-declarations rather than objective, evidence-based information. Now, it wants to raise the bar in the standards expected of all suppliers to the public sector and ensure that small suppliers are able to secure market share, increasing productivity and boosting economic growth.

To help with this, the green paper proposes using exclusion rules to tackle unacceptable behaviour in public procurement, such as fraud, and allowing buyers to take into account a budder’s past performance and exclude them if they have previously failed to acceptably deliver services.

Read the full green paper here 

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We respect your privacy SarsbyGovernment & Local AuthoritiesNewsroomSector NewsSupplier NewsTrade NewsCabinet Office,commissioning,green paper on procurement,procurement,procurement regulations,public sector,SMEs,transforming public procurementOutlined by the Cabinet Office, new plans to overhaul procurement rules, cutting red tape and making it easier for smaller businesses to win government contracts have been launched. The UK Government has published a new green paper – ‘Transforming public procurement’ – that sets out proposed changes to the UK’s...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals