Development Partner sought for UKs largest brownfield regeneration project

A development partner is being sought by Homes England and Network Rail for one of the largest regeneration projects in the UK.

York Central is a 45-hectare mixed-use scheme, which will see the creation of 2,500 homes and more than 800,000sq ft of commercial space adjacent to York Railway Station.

Once developed, the site will provide a new commercial and residential quarter in one of the UK’s most historic and desirable cities.

Transformational development

Real estate services specialist JLL will now begin the process of securing a developer to bring forward the transformational 45-hectare mixed-use scheme, which is expected to grow York’s economy by 20%.

The first phase of the project is expected to deliver a maximum of 650,000sq ft of commercial space and 700 residential units on the strategic development site – predominantly owned by Network Rail and Homes England.

JLL’s Development team will guide the public sector partners through the procurement process as they seek to transform the largely brownfield site into vibrant and distinctive residential neighbourhoods, cultural and commercial space.

New homes

Henry Burton, director of development at JLL, said: “York Central is one of a select number of projects across the UK which can be deemed to be truly transformational regeneration at scale. In the coming decade, it will bring sustainable growth to York’s £765m economy as the city continues to welcome more than eight million visitors a year. Critically though, it will also bring much-needed new homes across a diverse mix of tenures, with a clear focus on developing inclusive new neighbourhoods and communities to support the growth of the city and the wider region.”

Peter Freeman, Chair of Homes England, said: “Urban regeneration schemes like York Central have a huge part to play in delivering the government’s Levelling Up agenda by replacing underused brownfield sites with an inviting range of mixed-use buildings and well landscaped public open space. Partnerships between the public and private sector will be crucial to success. We want to hear from developers that share our ambitions to create thriving new quarters and are interested in playing a key role in the delivery of York Central. York Central is at an advanced stage with planning and land assembly in place and the major infrastructure contract placed.  It is a tremendous opportunity to bring forward a long-awaited project to the benefit of York’s community.”

An Outline Application for the mixed-use development was granted in 2019 and subsequently a Reserved Matters Application was approved in 2020 for a significant first phase of infrastructure being delivered by the Landowners.

How Tracker can help

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Why a digital presence is essential to winning more business?

A thriving business feeds on generating engagement,” wrote Goran Paun in his 2020 Forbes article, Build a Brand: Why A Digital Presence Matters.

There are few things more important in business that connecting with consumers and remaining relevant. The question is, how do you do that? Well, in the modern world we live in, mostly, it’s through the plethora of digital technologies and platforms on offer – it is on these that your audience spends the majority of their time, with the average Brit currently spending a whopping 386 minutes a day online.

What is your digital presence?

While your digital presence is, of course, referring to your business’ website, it also extends beyond that. We’re talking about the conversation which exists around your brand online, the content that you push out on social channels, what the media is saying about your brand, and reviews customers leave. Your digital presence involves your digital reputation and your digital footprint too.

Fostering a positive digital presence isn’t just a task for B2C businesses; the success of B2B and B2G organisations will also hinge on a well-rounded digital strategy. A report by Salesforce found that 85% of consumers research a product online before purchasing with 74% of research being conducted on a company’s website and 38% on social media.

With the marketplace becoming increasingly saturated and difficult to permeate, we want to use this blog to detail why you need to improve your digital presence (or establish one if you haven’t already) and how to do so.

Showcasing your ability, products and services

For many businesses, what consumers see online is the shop window – is it enticing when someone walks past or is it bare, undescriptive, lacking attention to detail, and a far cry from competing with that of fellow businesses?

By establishing a well-developed, considerate online presence, you can successfully showcase all of your business’ best traits. Use it as an opportunity to point your audiences towards case studies, portfolios, additional research material, and value-added content that will, ultimately, assist your brand in standing out as a thought leader within its industry.

Make it easier for your business to be found

Just like an OS map would lead a customer straight to your front door, an effective digital strategy that focuses on presence will allow for them to find you at the click of a button. Your audience will, in most circumstances, opt for the business that regularly appears right before their eyes. By enhancing your presence online, you can reduce the time it takes people to find you, which, in turn, should increase your chance of success with new (and existing) customers.

An opportunity to market your brand

Consumers want to know more about your business and what makes it tick. While delivering this may seem complex, in fact, it can be achieved fairly simply through consistent messaging that is utilised across your digital space. The beauty about of most of the digital sphere, particularly when ‘getting started’, is that it’s free at least initially. Get your brand name out there, make small waves in the first instance, and then begin to generate more powerful traction through paid activity.

The consistency we mention above extends beyond tone, language, and style to include your actual online activity. Are you posting on social channels on a daily basis and engaging a community? Are you regularly updating your blog space with topical, relevant thought leadership style content?

So, now you know the importance of a digital presence, it’s worth gaining a better understanding of how to achieve one for your business.

Making your website more engaging

Were you aware that 56 per cent of internet users will not trust a business that doesn’t have a website? It really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – considering it is many people’s first port of call. That said, just because you’ve got a website doesn’t mean you’re automatically in control of an optimised digital presence. Your website needs to be user friendly, straightforward in content and messaging without lacking detail, and designed to deliver. Similarly, 54.4 per cent of all internet users are working from a mobile device so it’s important to ensure that your site is mobile friendly, otherwise you could be missing out on half your potential custom.

Develop your social channels

Social channels are the perfect place to establish and nurture a relationship with customers. Conduct research and competitor analysis to better understand the social media platforms likely to generate success for your brand. While you should not use the same content across all platforms, for example Facebook and LinkedIn, it’s important to remain consistent in your messaging, so users can easily recognise you.

Call upon the help of SEO

Without bogging ourselves down in detail, if you want to establish a strong digital presence, you’ll need to get your SEO in order. Ranking for terms relevant to your business’ offering online is essential if you want your business to be found. For example, if you’re working in the public sector and looking to appear for terms like ‘public sector tenders’, then you’ll need to ensure your website and individual pages are optimised towards said term. There are, however, several different facets to SEO, which include technical, onsite, offsite, and content. There a host of guides online that will teach you the basics, including Neil Patel, SEMRush, and HubSpot. Alternatively, you may wish to speak to an SEO specialist for further advice on next steps.

Turning on paid

SEO and paid activity will work in conjunction with one another, but PPC (pay-per-click) and additional paid advertising is essential for businesses that are trying a more aggressive approach to targeting a particular audience. Get an understanding of your search engine optimisation and then consider your next steps in regard to paid.

 

So, there you have it, why your digital presence is crucial, regardless of what your business does and what it’s looking to do.

Helping You Find Your Place in The Public Sector Supply Chain

The public sector opportunity is vast for suppliers: an annual spend of some £290bn every year with the range of goods, works and services required varying wildly, from pencils to buildings.

This spending must be leveraged to play its part in the UK’s economic recovery. Procurement has a role to play in Government aims such as opening up public contracts to more small businesses and social enterprises, innovating in public service delivery, and meeting the net zero carbon target by 2050.

Active market

Data from our Tracker reports show us that the marketplace is very active with thousands of notices published every week, by a wide variety of public bodies. Health, local government, central government, and education authorities consistently publish high levels of notices, with just under half of these opportunities valued at less than £100,000 and ideally suited to SMEs.

With the publication of the ‘Levelling Up’ whitepaper, government has committed to billions of pounds worth of investment in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including regenerating town centre and high streets, upgrading local transport, and investing in cultural and heritage assets.

Meanwhile, commitments to investment in growing the health and education estates, and the drive to improve the green credentials of public sector buildings and hit net zero targets, will ensure a healthy supply of public sector contract opportunities for years to come.

Changes to procurement

Over the past two years, public procurement has had to adapt and change throughout the coronavirus, bringing on board organisations that had never supplied the sector before and using new routes of procurement.

The pandemic has reinforced how important it is for the public sector to work with suppliers that are innovative, reliable, and trustworthy.

In mid-December 2020, as the end of the Transition period for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union drew nearer, the UK Government launched an online consultation on its Public Procurement Green Paper ‘Transforming Public Procurement’, which sought to overhaul the processes that lay at the heart of procurement.

Primarily focusing on contracting authorities in England, the Green Paper puts forward a series of proposals designed to simplify and speed up procurement, whilst also improving opportunities for SMEs and placing value for money at its core.

Government response to the Green Paper will see a new set of rules put in place that aim to simplify the process of bidding for public work and encourage more suppliers and SMEs into the sector.

Early Engagement is key

The public sector is always looking to improve its service delivery and identify new, innovative suppliers to ensure the public is getting the best procurement deal, one of the best tools for buyers to use is early engagement.

To develop innovation and best outcomes from contracts, ‘Early Engagement’ is seen as key; providing transparency of contracting authorities’ procurement pipelines and processes to suppliers and introducing buyer’s needs to get potential suppliers involved sooner.

‘Early Engagement’ benefits both buyers and suppliers; allowing buyers to take advantage of the latest innovations and technologies and having solutions ‘built in’ to their supply chain, while suppliers have better knowledge of requirements, can plan business activities and ultimately write better bids.

According to the Cabinet Office, it helps “promote forthcoming procurement opportunities and provide a forum to discuss delivery challenges and risks associated with the project”. ‘Early Engagement’ is in the UK Government’s best interests and they want to hear from innovative, reliable and trustworthy suppliers.

How Tracker can help

Our Tracker tool has over 20 years of contract notice history and the details of thousands of current and prior framework notices, buyer spend, market leads and sector-specific news, creating actionable insights for you to engage at the earliest opportunity.

If you are seeking to improve your tenders and find these new opportunities, business intelligence is key. Tracker can not only help provide you with tender opportunities and knowledge of future pipelines, but also help you engage with the buyers and position your company as a solution provider.

 

 

Mental Health and the Onus on Businesses to Do More: Mental Health Awareness Month

Across the UK, as central and devolved governments make decisions regarding the future of mask wearing, testing and so forth, millions of employees have returned to the office on a full-time basis but a large proportion of workers now find themselves working in a hybrid fashion.

According to a McKinsey survey, roughly one in three workers back in the workplace suggest the return to the office has negatively impacted their mental health. Furthermore, those who experienced a decline in mental health following a return to the office said they were five times more likely to reduce their amount of workplace responsibility, negatively impacting business operations.

Employers, evidently, play a major role in the mental health maintenance of their staff. Dr Eileen Anderson Fye, director of Education, Bioethics, and Medical Humanities at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine noted: “Thankfully we are seeing improvements in many workplaces in supporting people who deal with mental health challenges, but some are refusing to budge, holding onto an outdated, one size fits all model.”

Dr Anderson Fye added: “people with social anxiety tend to thrive in workplaces with flexible options such as remote or hybrid set-ups.”

With April being Mental Health Awareness Month, we take a look at the impact the current working environment is having, and what employers can do to support staff in the workplace of the future.

A hybrid working induced mental health pandemic

A BBC article in early January opened with “a part-remote, part office schedule has been hailed as the future of work. Yet in this hybrid set-up, some employees have never been so tired.”

A Tinypulse survey detailed that 80 per cent of people leaders reported that a hybrid set-up was exhausting for employees. Additionally, workers were reported to be more emotionally taxed when working partly at home, partly in the office than fully remote staff – and, perhaps, even more worryingly than full-time office based-workers.

Elora Voyles, industrial organisational psychologist at Tinypulse, suggested: “Disruption to employees’ daily routine – and the staccato nature of hybrid – is what workers finds so tiring.” In contrast, she went on to add: “a predictable, consistent routine can help with feelings of stress and uncertainty – especially during a pandemic.”

Did you know that 20% of UK workers reported difficulties switching off from work, noting that they always ‘feel on’?

More than 7 in 10 UK employees pushed through a mental health struggle to avoid taking time off in the three months since the turn of the year according to a report by BetterUp Labs.

Despite a lull in work-related stress searches online prior to Christmas, Google searches for terms relating to work-induced anxiety and stress boomed in the New Year period, with an average of 6,810 monthly searches in January and February (Google).

The keyword phrase ‘work-related stress’ alone averages 2,900 monthly searches in the UK, up 21% YoY. While there is no certainty as to what has caused this increase, it could be proposed that the introduction of the new hybrid working approach has played a part.

Your business has a duty to protect its employees’ mental health

The reasons your business should be supporting and safeguarding your employees’ mental health are countless.

Firstly, more employees than ever before are leaving their jobs for mental health reasons. 68 per cent of millennials and 81 per cent of Gen Zs have left roles, both voluntarily and involuntarily, for mental health reasons, in comparison to 50 per cent of overall respondents – a particularly alarming statistic for employers who are failing to support their staff, considering that 75 per cent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025.

Additionally, 91 per cent of people believe that a company’s culture should support mental health – up from 86 per cent in 2019.

As you can expect then, failing to introduce appropriate mental health measures will, inevitably, impact your business’ ability to recruit top tier talent.

Mental health absenteeism also has a major impact on employees and employers alike – more than £14bn is associated with lost productivity due to mental health each year.

How does your business ensure that it is creating an environment that supports mental health?

Firstly, is your business sending a clear message to your staff that mental health matters? Explain to employees that mental health will be treated in a similar fashion to physical health and approached with the utmost respect.

By establishing an open, supportive culture, staff should eventually feel more comfortable and confident discussing their concerns. This needs to be well signposted within the business, however, otherwise your attempts may be in vain.

Mind details things businesses can do in order to support their staff. These include:

  • Flexible hours
  • Alteration to workplace set-up
  • Creation of quiet spaces
  • On call support and regular catch-ups when working from home
  • Supportive return to work policies – including gradual build-up and a phased return

The mental health charity goes on to add that employers can also do the following:

  • Offer reallocation of tasks or amend job descriptions
  • Provide training and support that facilitates secondment
  • Introduce more positive and constructive feedback
  • Create mental health support groups
  • Provide self-help information and material

When tendering to the public sector, social value is becoming a staple of decision making and can massively impact your business’ chances of being successful. Within the social value model, a number of points refer to the improvement and maintenance of mental health, whether that be internally or in the community, highlighting just another reason why, in this Mental Health Awareness Month, the onus is on businesses to ensure they’re doing their best to support their staff.

Interested in finding out more about winning public sector contracts? Book a free trial today.

Why Sometimes You Need to Source Locally

The world of procurement is often tricky. It involves choosing one appropriate candidate, ultimately benefiting them, while rejecting and disadvantaging others.

That said, it isn’t just the businesses that are picked which will profit from winning the contracts, it’s also their supply chain, their local economy, fellow businesses, families, and so on.

The above is particularly true when we take into consideration just how lucrative and valuable some contracts can be. With this in mind, you can see why the role of the buyer in the process of procurement can be so complex.

One aspect of sourcing which received considerable attention during the pandemic was that of locality. The idea of ‘shop local’ was thrust into the limelight as businesses and consumers not only struggled to get deliveries from further afield but also chose to support businesses closer to home in a community spirit approach.

With responsible consumerism taking centre stage in the modern world, shop local is gaining even more traction. However, that is not to suggest that global sourcing doesn’t provide equal opportunity and benefit. In this article, we are going to consider the differences between local and global sourcing before going on to detail some occasions on which local should be the preferred option.

Global sourcing

It should come as little surprise that the process of global sourcing involves the procurement of goods and services from international markets which cross geographical and political borders. While there exist multiple reasons why businesses and organisations opt for global sourcing as opposed to procuring goods and services locally, the most common is lower cost skilled labour and cheap raw materials not being available in their home country.

The vast majority of well-known multinational corporations we interact with on a daily basis utilise the capabilities of international outsourcing, calling upon low-cost, skilled labour.

According to dragonsourcing.com: “the workforce in countries like China, India, Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia are aware of the latest trends in production techniques and they also know how to implement these advanced manufacturing techniques in their operations, enabling them to manufacture products that conform to global quality standards.”

As well as bringing benefits to the purchasing organisation in regard to cost and increased production capacity,  global sourcing also offers support to the local economy of the area of production, providing employment opportunities in what are often poor areas.

Local sourcing

Did you know that 72 per cent of industrial and B2B buyers suggest that they “always or generally prefer to source locally” in contrast with the 10.8 per cent who note they “always or generally prefer to source globally”?

Quite the opposite to global sourcing, local sourcing is simply the procurement of goods and services from local suppliers within your home country.

In a similar way to global sourcing, where buyers can create employment opportunities within their international markets, local sourcing creates jobs and wealth within the domestic scene. Likewise, bringing employment to the local area will also exist as a great tool for PR, highlighting a business or organisation’s commitment to their own local community, much like shop local we mentioned above.

Local sourcing, however, can lead to considerably higher prices, thanks to material and labour costs generally being more expensive domestically.

When sourcing locally makes sense

There are a number of situations when sourcing locally is the most effective option – we’ve detailed some of them below…

To gain better control of your products

Closer relationships help ensure better control and enable faster problem solving – when concerns arise, being geographically closer to suppliers allows for face-to-face visits. Similarly, if the buying organisation encounters problems that will have knock-on effects for the supplier, the ability to arrange face-to-face meetings is obviously preferable when seeking a quick resolution.

Costs associated with co-ordination can be significantly reduced by better lines of communication.

When your local economy needs you

Spending on local businesses and industries, as we’ve previously noted, is of incredible value to the local economy.

Not only does this bring increased funding from taxation, but it also brings jobs and prosperity to the local area and region. More people in work leads to more local spending, creating a virtuous circle.

This can be a particularly powerful tool in the armoury especially for public sector organisations in local areas which have been experiencing economic downturn.

When you’re trying to improve your organisation’s carbon footprint

Reduced travel, reduced fuel, and less packaging all lead to reduced impact on the environment. By sourcing locally, organisations can successfully help protect the environment and contribute to the goal of achieving net zero.

All the above became appropriate solutions to sourcing problems during COVID-19 – with the pandemic existing as the perfect example of a time when buyers needed to have better control of their products, when they needed to support local businesses and, thanks to COP26, when they needed to demonstrate a commitment to reducing their carbon footprint.

Social value

The factors mentioned above all fall under the concept of social value, which sits at the heart of the UK government’s proposed procurement reforms. Social value, as described by Social Value International is: “about understanding the relative importance of changes that people experience and using the insights we gain from this understanding to make better decisions.”

Similarly, e-procurement platform, Delta eSourcing, notes how social value “is not something which can be added on, rather central to an organisation’s entire way of doing procurement.”

As of January 2021, the UK government’s Social Value Model was mandatory in all central government contracts. But what it is the ‘Social Value Model?’. In effect, it sets out all of the government’s social value priorities for procurement, detailing a list of objectives which central government departments are strongly encouraged include in their procurement process. The objectives centre around five main themes:

  • COVID-19 recovery
  • Tackling economic inequality
  • Tackling climate change
  • Providing equal opportunity
  • Championing wellbeing

Ultimately, the model was designed to make it easier for buyers to assess and evaluate the social value detailed in tender responses and to incorporate it into procurement of all kinds.

While currently this is just a necessity for central government contracting, the model is being increasingly utilised within public sector contracts as a whole in England.

 

We anticipate the coming years will involve increased focus on social value which may, in turn, lead to a growth in local sourcing.

 

PIN published for £6bn ‘Construct’ Framework

A Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published for an upcoming £6bn public sector framework from Southern Construction Framework (SCF).

SCF is a leading construction procurement framework delivered by the public sector for the public sector in the South of England.

Kicking off with a supplier information event on 12th April, the latest PIN advises prospective contractors of upcoming market engagement and the subsequent tender process for the £6bn Framework. The current notice is the successor to the initial Southern Construction Framework and is designed to deliver public sector construction projects in education, health, sport & leisure, fire & police, build to rent and more across South-West England, South-East England and London.

The ‘Construct’ framework and its predecessors have delivered work for over 200 government bodies since 2007.

Previous work carried out under the framework includes:

  • Student Accommodation Scheme Arts University Bournemouth
  • The DIO’s £250m Salisbury Basing Programme
  • Multiple developments at Exeter Science Park
  • Police Investigation Centre (PIC), Basingstoke

SCF is the market leader in Two Stage Open Book tendering. This process supports ‘Early Contractor Involvement’, which brings together contractor, stakeholders and suppliers to deliver best quality and value for the client.

Kingsley Clarke, SCF Operations Lead (South West), said: “We are excited to launch our next generation of SCF Construct to build on our past success. The PIN provides information of how to attend our supplier day where we will outline our plans in more detail.”

Adam Sanford, SCF Operations Lead (South East), added: “This fifth-generation framework helps us to provide the best outcomes for our public sector clients. It demonstrates latest best practice and project governance processes, providing an intelligent, data-driven procurement process. This means predictability and resilience for our clients in an increasingly volatile market.”

SCF Construct can be used by all public and third sector organisations within its region, which broadly covers Greater London, the South-East and South-West of England. It can also be used by other client organisations where public money is being expended.

Tracker can help you to find these opportunities and engage early with prospective clients, making your tenders more successful.

Contact us now for a free trial and see what Tracker can do for your business prospects.

UK Engineering Firm Powers into Poland

Offshore Design Engineering Ltd (ODE) has powered into Poland, after securing the contract for a major offshore windfarm development.

ODE used the General Export Facility from UK Export Finance (UKEF), gaining a €900,000 package financed by HSBC UK. HSBC UK and UKEF’s support provided working capital benefit by bridging the cash flow gap caused by contractual milestones.

The Baltic Power offshore wind farm is a major development to the north of Poland set to provide clean electricity to one million households. ODE’s engineers and project managers have helped design the wind farm and assist in the development from concept to commissioning.

Andrew Baker, Managing Director at ODE, commented: “The UKEF support has been really important, allowing us to expand our resources and move into different markets at the same time. The ability to take what we’ve learned in the offshore industry in the UK, and help other countries to do that, is very meaningful and I’m proud of the momentum we have achieved so far.”

ODE was required to provide a performance bond in a short timeframe – which had cashflow impacts for the growing business. The funding enabled ODE to maximise working capital efficiencies and grow its multimillion-pound export pipeline.

After approaching HSBC UK and UKEF for support, ODE was able to secure the contract, accessing the financing it needed under UKEF’s General Export Facility (GEF).

ODE has since become established in Poland with a number of additional renewable scopes being won in the country. The business now has a multi-million level pipeline, with the flexibility provided by the GEF allowing ODE to pitch for larger contracts both in Poland and in new markets around the world.

Richard Armstrong, Export Finance Manager at UK Export Finance, said: “ODE is a prime example of a business that is exporting UK expertise to champion the green energy transition around the world. As we enter 2022 taking forward the recommendations made at COP26, I’m delighted that we could provide this support and hope other businesses will recognise similar potential.”

Tracker can help you identify potential opportunities, even in countries you may not have considered before. If you’re keen to find out more about how to tender to the public sector, register for a free trial today and unlock a world of opportunity.

Can British Businesses Fulfil Domestic Demands?

Brexit has dramatically changed the UK import and export dynamic.

Pre-Brexit trade predictions estimated a 15% decline in UK imports and exports. However, several factors skewed this outcome. First, UK goods trade to the EU fell by more than 30% at the start of 2020 (Compared to 2019) and didn’t recover.

The extended transition period caused severe delays, offset further by the pandemic. As a result, by the end of 2021, despite positive growth indicators in the previous quarter, GDP growth slowed to less than 2%.

Yet, the extent of Brexit’s impact was ill-predicted. As we see, the ongoing effects of this change have plummeted the UK into an economic downturn.

British businesses looking to fulfil domestic demands have turned to alternative means to supplement imports and exports.

As we’ll discuss, tender contracts are becoming an increasingly viable option for businesses to attract new suppliers and contracts.

However, many businesses may not know where to turn when it comes to tender contracts. So, we’re exploring some of these issues and potential solutions.

Let’s dive in…

How Much Did We Depend on European Businesses?

Typically, the UK imports more than it exports. So the UK has to offset this trade deficit to keep the economy stable. Pre-Brexit, the UK trade relied on the EU to fulfil 51.4% of this deficit.

However, the beginning of 2021 marked a sharp drop in this trade, falling by over 30%, so these figures are no surprise.

Under EU membership, the UK gained from mutually beneficial trade across the EU Market. For example, under the pinions trade agreement, the UK profited from the EU customs union, single market, and VAT area.

The UK also relied on the EU for supplying labour. As a result, the UK labour shortage has been the subject of significant media attention since Brexit. Most recently, the summer of 2021 saw a supply chain backlog resulting from labour shortages.

The number one factor is attributed to a lack of drivers, with the haulage industry estimating a 100,000 drivers’ shortage.

The UK Road Haulage Association, in part, attributes this shortage to many European drivers based in the UK travelling to their country-of-origin post-Brexit, and not returning.

In addition, the UK’s current immigration rules include a points-based system to encourage skilled workers, meaning EU citizens no longer have preferred treatment.

As vacancies rose, the haulage driver shortage created tension between the industry and the government. Recent data shows that more than one-third of businesses were short of workers overall. So what has this meant for meeting the UK’s domestic demand?

Has the Situation Changed Drastically?

The EU customs Union offers standardised tariffs on non-EU territories and no tariffs for internal trade. Under this regulation, there were no custom duties between member states.

Similarly, Inside the EU VAT area, VAT was paid in only one country. This meant VAT was levied on exporters rather than importers. Meaning the UK could extract VAT-Less imports.

At the heart of these trades was membership in the single market. This gave businesses access to over 450 million consumers. Moreover, it allows for leaver unit costs of goods, low unit labour costs and competitive corporate tax rates of only 15%.

The shortage of workers and changes to regulation have caused an 11-month customs backlog. There aren’t enough skilled workers to administer these changes. With small to medium-sized businesses suffering the worst disruptions.

Many have experienced low trade volume or have had to stop exporting altogether.

How’s the Public Sector Coping?

As a result of decreasing exports from the EU, we see UK trade turning to non-EU countries to manage their trade deficit.

The UK government has been negotiating trade deals with Australia, New Zealand and the US to meet their domestic demands.

The government has begun to diversify its trade services. For example, it became mandatory for all public sector organisations to advertise their procurement opportunities over £10,000 to public and private businesses.

Likewise, the EU began to offer TED (Tenders electronic daily) to present non-EU companies with public sector procurement options.

Public sector tendering contracts have many benefits. From more transparent supply chains to open and accessible contacts, the future need not look so bleak for businesses.

Is There a Clear Plan for the Future?

According to the Center for Social Justice, the UK government spends more than a third of its total expenditure on procurement contracts. Previously, these contracts were regulated by EU law.

However, post-Brexit, the government released its green paper outline to redesign the contract procurement system.

This opened the door for public businesses to take advantage of public sector contracts. In addition, it significantly speeds up and simplifies the procurement process.

This provides more businesses opportunities to engage with the domestic and international markets, mainly if firms are currently exporting to Europe and struggling with Brexit impacts.

Are You Ready to Utilise Tender Contracts?

Why not take advantage of these transformations? Every year, Tracker shares thousands of real-time tender contracts on its platform.

Moreover, you can access the latest information on public sector market trends with smart business insights.

In addition, we provide detailed and meaningful intelligence on how to engage with public sector buyers. Tracker is currently offering a free trial of our premium service.

With the free trial, you get alerts on the latest contracts and awards, market and competitor insights, access to our contract archive, expert advice from leading public sector experts, and more.

So, what are you waiting for? Join today to find out what Tracker can do for your business.

Do We Need to Sacrifice the Planet to Work from Home?

What does remote working ‒ or ‘working from home’ (WFH) as it’s affectionately known ‒ mean for the future of life in Britain?

The COVID-19 pandemic is, undoubtedly, the biggest working from home experiment in history – at least half of the British workforce worked from home part, if not all, of the week in Summer 2020. Working from home has proved very popular with employees, so much so that many employers are facing up to a permanent change to at least a hybrid model of working in which employees work from home at least some of every week. The continuation of working from home throws up obvious questions in regard to employee collaboration, productivity, and wellbeing – that’s a certainty and something which is continually being analysed and assessed.

However, the idea of its impact on the environment and sustainability is something which remains comparatively unexamined in public discourse. There is no denying that the behaviour of employees can have considerable impacts on the environment, so the argument for working from home, particularly when taking this into account, needs to be properly considered.

What the facts say about the environment and working from home

This topic, is, for sure, one of the hardest to pin down thanks to the sheer number of variables. That said, there are some things that we know for certain and, similarly, we know there are a number of things businesses can do to ensure that the environment is not sacrificed.

Think of the number of variables: consumer electronics; home energy consumption; non-work travel; home technologies available; and type of office space – when all of these are considered, WFH begins to appear in a slightly different light to being a clear environmental win.

But, what about the numbers?

Three particularly interesting facts emerge from the MoreThanNow “Working From Home: The Sustainability Question” report. Firstly, the average business user creates 135kg of CO2e from sending emails every year which is equivalent to 200 miles driven in a family car.

Secondly, at our current rate of video conferencing and streaming, it would take 71,600 square miles of forest to sequester all the associated CO2 pollution.

Finally, food, must be a major consideration – it lies behind 26% of all greenhouse gases and 50% of UK wasted food comes from households.

James Hand, Founder of Giki, a social enterprise which makes it easier to live sustainably, discussed the complication associated with assessing the environmental impact of working from home, commenting: “One: how much energy do you save by not travelling to work? Two: how much extra energy do you use by being at home?”

Weighing up the positives and negatives of home and office working

When working from home some of the obvious savings for the environment include the reduction in travel, limiting carbon emissions associated with fuel, a reduction in single use plastic from coffee cups and takeaway sandwiches, and an overall reduction in household waste, by using the foods that you have at home.

The office, meanwhile, also boasts advantages – running one electric and heating system on a daily basis as opposed to hundreds clearly helps drive down the associated pollution. However, when you think about the hybrid working approach, an office will obviously be running heating and electricity all of the time even if only half of the staff or less are present.

If it is the case that businesses are operating a hybrid approach, it must be questioned whether or not they can successfully operate a half-heated or half-lit system.

What the experts say

A report by Moneybarn found that the average commute in the UK is 37km, with the average petrol car producing 142g of CO2 per km. These figures strongly support the environmental benefits of home working, especially when this data is combined with that of tech giant Huawei, which indicates that the emissions associated from data centres and its video conferencing total just 0.6 per cent of the carbon emissions from a daily commute.

However, the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions at the University of Sussex noted: “While most studies conclude that teleworking can contribute energy savings, the more rigorous studies, and those with a broader scope, present more ambiguous findings. Where studies include additional impacts such as non-work travel or office and home energy use, the potential energy savings appear more limited – with some studies suggesting that part-week teleworking could lead to a net increase in energy consumption.”

The non-work travel aspect of the above statement is something worth paying attention to. Workplace commutes aren’t actually the biggest contributor to carbon emissions when analysing emissions arising from car travel – they actually make up less than 20 per cent with shopping and leisure trips accounting for 45 per cent.

What can businesses do to support the environment when staff are WFH?

There are a number of areas in which businesses can support their staff when working from home in order to help keep their emissions low: energy; water; electronics; internet usage; food; waste; and travel.

Employers can help their staff switch to greener energy suppliers, transition onto more plant-based lunches (such as meat-free Mondays) and reduce the number of online meetings with video-calls to cut down on data usage.

 

There’s no doubt that the future will hold challenges for businesses and employers alike but, if we’re going to make WFH work, then we need to consider the planet too.

Discover more about how Tracker is helping businesses around the UK submit tender responses for sustainable contracts today.

Bidding for £500M Contracts at HS2’s Euston Station Opens

 

Small businesses are being encouraged to bid for some £500M worth of contracts as work ramps up at HS2’s new Euston station.

Hundreds of packages are available to bid on as the programme of procurement gears up to support the delivery of HS2. Many of the smaller contracts are suitable for Small and Medium Sized enterprises (SMEs) as further supply chain opportunities are created through the contracts.

HS2’s Station Construction Partner for Euston station, a joint venture between Mace and Dragados (MD JV), has launched the multi-year programme of procurement, which includes the procurement for the construction of the main substructure at the station, with packages for pilling, earthworks and reinforced concrete included. A subcontractor is also being sought to deliver the main systems and mechanical and electrical and plumbing (MEP) packages for the station.

Opportunities

While the procurement programme is focussed on Tier 2 contract packages, the number of other contracts created throughout the supply chain is anticipated to be huge, giving opportunities to businesses large and small, civil or non-civil, to participate in delivering HS2. This just one of the areas in which the HS2 project will be providing long-term work for businesses, providing stability and opportunities for growth.

Andy Swift, HS2 Project Client for Euston, said: “Our work to deliver HS2’s London terminus station at Euston will really ramp up over the next few years. We have been preparing the area for the construction of the new station, which will transform the Euston area, including delivering improved connections with the London Underground.

“We encourage businesses big and small to bid for these packages, and we are proud of the role that HS2 is playing in helping boost the UK economy after covid.”

Paul Leighton, Deputy Delivery Director, Mace Dragados JV, said: “Given the scale of the task at Euston, we’re in no doubt as to how important our supply chain is to our success. We’re looking for our suppliers to not only provide us with skilled team members that will help us grow in size and capability, but to bring ideas and innovations that will help us set standards in the industry. We’re excited to see the wider impacts of our procurement activities too, with opportunities for suppliers across the country helping to feed into the national levelling-up agenda.”

Building back better

HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson said: “HS2 has never just been about boosting transport – it’s also about driving business, creating long-lasting jobs and Building Back Better from the pandemic.

“This major investment shows we’re delivering on our promises to improve transport across the nation while providing opportunities for business and boosting the economy.”

MD JV took over the HS2 station site in 2020 and has already completed pilling for the west wall of the station. Hundreds of jobs have already been supported on the project, and it is projected that these new contracts will support the 3,000 jobs that will be filled at peak to construct HS2’s Euston station.

How Tracker can help   

Tracker can help you cut through the noise and pinpoint the right opportunities for your business. Even if you’re not a traditional rail sector buyer, opportunities like this show that there is a wide scope of activity on contracts which you could benefit from.

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