UK Government is changing its procurement policies: here’s what you need to know

Procurement policy changes have been making headline news since the transition period for leaving the European Union came to a close in December last year.

With the UK having left the EU, the door is open for the Government to implement its own policies and targets through its contract sourcing.

What you need to know

The Government is looking to make substantial changes to UK procurement policy, and is currently considering responses to its Green Paper Consultation.

The consultation was launched in December 2020, with the Government asking UK organisations to comment upon proposed changes which seek to overhaul the processes at the very heart of public procurement.

When will the new policies come into force?

New rules and regulations for procurement are expected to come this year, with the National Procurement Policy Statement already being published.

What is the National Procurement Policy Statement?

June 2021 saw the announcement of a new National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS). The statement urges all central government organisations, local authorities, NHS Trusts and police departments to consider the potential wider benefits to the community when initiating a project that involves the spending of public money.

The NPPS “sets out the national priorities that all contracting authorities should have regard to in their procurement where it is relevant to the subject matter of the contract and it is proportionate to do so”.

The statement requires all contracting authorities to consider their organisational capability and capacity, with regard to the procurement skills and resources required to deliver value for money.

You can read the National Procurement Policy Statement along with accompanying guidance.

How can you take advantage of the policy changes?

As the old adage goes: ‘the early bird gets the worm’. When it comes to public sector procurement, it couldn’t be more true. The best advantage a supplier can achieve from the procurement policy updates is to ensure that they tailor their bid to demonstrate compliance with any and all changes that the buyer highlights as important to them.
Engaging early with buyers to enquire how best to respond to bids in light of recent policy changes not only helps establish relationships, but also allows the supplier to help shape the bid. Buyers cannot, by nature, be experts in every type of product or service they procure – as such, specialist suppliers have an opportunity to help buyers ensure their bid requirements match industry standards.

Government procurement spend is currently £290 billion across the UK public sector, with contracts ranging from multimillion-pound deals to much smaller lots suitable for SMEs.

Procurement has a role to play in achieving the Government’s 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.

Through our own research and data (see our Transforming Public Procurement Response Paper), we can report that there is broad approval of the need for change within the procurement of public sector goods, services and works. However, a number of reservations and complications are envisaged by both buyers and suppliers, making the need for consultation all the greater.

With the Government committed to ensuring 33% by value of its contracts go to SMEs, there is a need for both sides to come together to drive better value and innovation across the sector.

Next steps

The opportunity exists for wider collaboration to ensure public procurement sets the standard for the country’s future needs.

One thing that will be highly important, however, is that clear guidance must follow any changes proposed, to ensure that everyone has a full understanding of what can and cannot be done when applying the new regulations.
Be prepared and keep up to date with guidance as changes can happen, fast.

Tracker is hosting a series of ‘Tracker Talks’ webinars, where we speak to procurement experts to provide you with advice on how to make the most of public sector opportunities – you can catch up with previous webinars and watch at your leisure with our on-demand procurement webinars.

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COVID-19: IT Challenges within Healthcare

COVID-19 is putting strain on healthcare professionals globally.

During the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian countries including Singapore and China tried to contain it using innovative new technologies. Disinfecting drones, robots and Artificial Intelligence that can scan thousands of medical images in seconds were all rolled out to tackle COVID-19.

As the NHS ramps up its response to the coronavirus pandemic, we look into the kind of services and supplies the healthcare sector may need from the IT procurement community.

Challenges faced by GPs

The British Medical Association has said that there is an urgent requirement for the routine monitoring of long-term conditions so that GPs can focus on the sickest patients as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.

To mitigate the pressure on GP surgeries, the NHS’s Medical Director for Primary Care, Nikita Kanani, and Director of Primary Care Strategy and NHS Contracts, Ed Waller, are urging GPs to move to a triage-first model of care “as soon as possible”. Triage services are mainly delivered over the phone, but the letter to GPs advised practices to promote online consultation services to patients “where they can” or “rapidly procure online consultation services”.

Within the letter it states that “rapid procurement” for those practices that do not currently have an online consultation solution will be supported through a national bundled procurement. It continues: “This will be available within the next 14 days and will be accessed by commissioners on behalf of practices. Commissioners should approach our regional team for more information on this process.”

NHS Digital

NHS Digital is the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system. It works with IT partners and uses digital technology to transform health and social care in the UK. As NHS Digital is responsible for providing a range of digital services to the health and social care system in England, they need the supplier expertise to put technology and data in place.

In the past NHS Digital has released many lucrative tender and framework opportunities for IT suppliers, many of which can be found using our Spend Analysis tool. NHS Digital issued an invitation to tender for existing and new suppliers to deliver a new IT systems framework for primary care in 2019.

The service is supporting health and care as part of the government response to COVID-19. So far it has responded to the outbreak by developing new services that will reduce pressure on the NHS. It is also capturing critical information around the national planning and operational response around COVID-19, to reduce the burden of data collection wherever possible. This data will also be used to help healthcare experts develop their understanding of the virus.

The NHS needs you

IT suppliers are integral to the efficiency of the NHS.

If your business can offer expertise in IT services to the healthcare sector now is the perfect time for your organisation to be proactively analysing and identifying where the opportunities sit within the public sector in the next 6 to 12 months ahead.

Tracker is the ideal place not only to find new IT tender opportunities but also to understand more about buyer requirements, historic spend patterns and competitor activity, all in one place.

Find IT contracts and access intelligence now using Tracker’s Spend Analysis and Archive Data with your free trial today (no credit card required).

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UK Budget 2020: Infrastructure and Construction Highlights

Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his inaugural UK budget in the House of Commons On 11 March 2020.

After delaying the planned Autumn Budget in 2019, due to the General Election, this was one of the most anticipated budgets in recent history – especially for those working within the infrastructure and construction sectors.

Tracker reviews the latest government spending plans under the newly elected Conservative government below.

Budget 2020

The first UK budget of a new decade has been announced.

Many suspected that the Chancellor would promise biggest spending plans on roads, housing and rail in generations, as the newly elected Prime Minister Boris Johnston, has promised an ‘infrastructure revolution’ during his time in Downing Street.

For now, the National Infrastructure Strategy has been delayed, but within the budget there were many prosperous investment plans for those working within the sector.

Infrastructure and Construction Highlights

Although Mr Sunak has only been in his role as Chancellor for less than a month, he asserted that “if the country needs it, we will build it.”  Broadband, railway, roads and housing were all on the agenda.

The infrastructure and construction highlights have been highlighted below.

Roads and potholes

Mr Sunak thanked the Transport Secretary for his efforts during the budget announcement, after making “the biggest ever investment in strategic roads and motorway.”

During this section of the announcement, it was revealed that:

  • £27 billion will be spent building and developing more than 4,000 miles of strategic and local roads in England between 2020-2025.
  • A £5 billion pothole fund will be introduced, which is expected to fill in 50 million potholes. This equates to £500 million dedicated to filling potholes each year.

Broadband and connectivity in rural locations

During the Conservatives election campaign the party promised to “level up” broadband if they were elected into power.

Mr Sunak insisted that this was the “Budget of a Government that gets things done” and made a number of broadband commitments.

  • £5 billion of funding dedicated to implementing gigabit-capable 4G broadband to far reaching and remote places in the UK, bridging infrastructure with digital transformation.
  • Investing £510 million into the shared rural mobile phone network so that 4G coverage in the next five years will encompass 95% of the UK.


Exiting this years budget, the mood for builders is positive. To ensure that “people have affordable and safe housing”, Mr Sunuk has made a number of commitments.

  • There will be a £10.9 billion increase in housing investment to support the building of at least 1 million homes by the end of this Parliament, and an average of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.
  • The Government is extending the Affordable Homes Programme with a new, multi-year settlement of £12.2 billion.
  • £1 billion from the Housing Infrastructure Fund will be allocated to building nearly 70,000 new homes in high demand areas of the country.
  • £1 billion for a ‘Grenfell fund’ will support the governments plans to remove dangerous cladding from tall buildings.

Greener initiatives and flooding

Mr Sunak also addressed the winter storms and flood damage that followed, He promised £200M for immediate repairs to local flood resilience.

We breakdown the spend for flooding and greener initiatives below.

  • £2 billion of funding towards doubling flood defences over the next five years, which, it is hoped, will protect 300,000 properties.
  • £500 million to support the roll-out of new rapid charging hubs for electric cars, ensuring that drivers are never more than 30 minutes from a charging station.
  • £640 million to plant more than 40 million trees and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland over the next five years.
  • Introduction of a plastic packaging tax to tackle plastic waste.

Long term infrastructure plans

These spending plans may not come as a surprise for those within this industry, as mentioned in Tracker’s latest Spotlight on Infrastructure and Utilities, some £600Bn of both private and public investment is expected to fund infrastructure development over the next ten years.

This massive investment across nearly 700 projects looking to improve UK roads and rail, hospitals and schools, utilities, energy and communications. Tracker’s Commercial Projects provides unique and comprehensively researched data that is exclusive to the Tracker business solution tool, such as planning permissions for such projects to support suppliers to engage early with buyers.

Stay up to date with UK spending plans

Know what the UK government is spending on – and with whom.

Our Spend Analysis tool collates and publishes all UK defence sector and public sector spend data. Tracker customers can gain access to the latest spend figures from government departments as the contracts are awarded – ahead of industry competitors.

Don’t wait until 2021 for the next budget announcement. Find contracts and access intelligence now using Tracker’s Spend Analysis and Archive Data with your free trial today (no credit card required)


Navigating UK procurement post-Brexit

On 31 January the UK officially ended its 47-year European membership. The UK has entered an 11-month transition period, where EU legislation will still be in force in the UK until 31 December 2020, when the transition period ends. It is only after 1 January 2021 that fundamental changes to procurement legislation are likely to be implemented by the UK government, which will be felt by buyers and suppliers alike.

What is the current procurement legislation?

The laws that currently govern the UK’s public procurement regime are largely based on EU rules which are dictated by EU Directives and the founding EU treaties. The most recent Directives were then transposed into UK law (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) by the Public Procurement Regulations Act 2015, and in Scotland by the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. EU procurement rules exist to open competition within the EU, and by extension, bring organisations of all sizes and industries a chance to win business in new markets through procurement.

However, by virtue of its former European membership, the UK is also part of the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). The GPA regulates the procurement of goods and services of public authorities by providing a framework based on principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination. The GPA is in place to guarantee fair treatment and non-discrimination to tender bidders from outside the UK or the EU, driving healthy and necessary competition. The GPA also provides a secure foundation that allows potential suppliers to challenge a breach of the GPA in the procurement process if they feel they have been unfairly treated.

What is the new approach post-Brexit?

Initially, Brexit will have a limited impact on UK procurement law. The UK and Scotland’s procurement regulations will remain in force until they are repealed or amended. This will happen whether or not the UK and the EU have reached an agreement before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

Attitudes expressed by the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, suggest the type of change that may lie ahead. On 29 November 2019 Johnson expressed that the government would “fundamentally change” public procurement rules to “back British business” – which would mean moving away from the current level playing field and potentially favouring UK companies over European rivals. This echoes a similar sentiment expressed early in 2019 by the Prime Minister’s Chief Advisor, Dominic Cummings, who described the UK procurement system as “complex, slow and wasteful.”

The government intends to implement the new procurement framework by 1 January 2021. The new rules are set to correspond with other public procurement systems and adhere to principles which encourage value for money alternatives, accountability, equal treatment and opening up of different markets.

What changes to UK procurement have already been made?

The Public Procurement Regulations (Amendment etc.) (EU exit) 2019 have been ratified. This became law on 29 March 2019 but its provisions will not come into force until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

The most notable amends resulting from the Regulations are:

  • UK public bodies will no longer be required to publish notices in the OJEU. Instead, a new UK e-notification service will be launched, called “Find a Tender.”
  • The existing templates for contract notices and contract award notices will be replaced by new templates that are aligned with the new e-notification service.
  • UK public bodies will no longer require bidders to explain prices and reject tenders which appear to be abnormally low where the bidder has received State aid, as is previously required under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland only.)
  • Bidders from GPA countries will have the same rights and remedies as UK bidders for eight months from the UK’s exit from the EU. After this point, provisions protecting these rights and remedies of GPA countries will be removed from the existing public procurement legislation (unless the UK’s new laws state the protection for GPA countries should be maintained.)

It is worth noting that Tracker hosts the largest database of public sector contracts in Europe, which contains thousands of tenders and is continually being updated by a dedicated team of researchers. This is extremely powerful information for organisations to have access to at the touch of a button.

Tracker’s Tender Alerts tool sends relevant tender opportunities directly to your organisation, effectively removing the time and resource it takes in searching for the right opportunity, in the right market. We explore the wide range of other business intelligence tools available on Tracker below.

In summary

There is clear evidence the UK government is likely to change the current procurement regulations. The extent of the changes and the extent to which British businesses will be favoured and promoted is less clear. As the UK progresses through the transition period and organisations prepare for procurement changes, it is more important than ever for new and existing suppliers to maintain good relationships with buyers and public authorities, to ensure they are on buyers’ radar and ready to win business.

This is one of the principles that Tracker champions – the ability for suppliers to engage earlier with buyers before a tender opportunity has even been published. Tracker encourages early engagement techniques with buyers, by providing businesses with a range of business intelligence tools and rich data to understand the market and the requirements of tenders.

Why is Tracker the way forward?

The future is set to be full of investment and innovation for procurement, and suppliers should best prepare themselves for it through Tracker Intelligence. Tracker supports and streamlines your procurement strategy by giving you access to the following tools:

Experience how Tracker can transform your business and support you through Brexit changes.

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HS2 gets the green light

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the go-ahead for the High Speed Rail project this week, despite acknowledging the increases in cost and delays in delivery time. The project has been controversial, with one review suggesting project costs could double to £106bn. However, HS2 also presents a huge opportunity for the construction industry and UK business, especially for new and existing suppliers in this market.

What is the HS2 project?

HS2 is designed to link London, Manchester and Leeds with a dedicated 345-mile railway line, with trains reaching a maximum speed of 235mph (360km/h), which is 100mph faster than trains currently operating on the East and West Coast mainlines.

The first phase involves building a line from London Euston via Birmingham Interchange (which is situated close to Birmingham International airport), with an extension northwest to Crewe to open Liverpool and Glasgow to high-speed rail opportunities.

The second phase introduces a Y-shaped railway line, with one branch going to Manchester (via Manchester airport) and the other travelling on to Leeds. This latter branch will also serve York and Newcastle, while simultaneously allowing easier travel from the North of England and Scotland southbound.

The objective of the project is to take the strain off existing railway services from the North of England, the East Midlands and the outskirts of London. The existing West Coast train line is the busiest route in Europe, and there is little that can be done to expand the line or improve services. HS2 will therefore relieve pressure on this service and others, as well as drastically cutting journey times for commuting passengers.

When will it be ready?

Phase one was due to open in 2026. However, current projections are that a token service of three trains an hour into Birmingham will start sometime between 2029 and 2033, with higher-volume train services running from Euston between 2031 and 2036. The complete HS2 network is unlikely to be ready until 2040.

How much will it cost?

Currently, around £9bn has been spent on preparation work. The estimated cost is between £65bn and £88bn; however, this top figure could likely be higher still when the project is finally finished.

HS2 and building construction tenders

Since 2017, the UK Government has awarded £6.6bn in contracts to build the first phase of the HS2 railway line, supporting over 16,000 jobs. HS2 will increasingly become a catalyst for growth across Britain, opening up local and regional markets, attracting investment and improving skills and opportunities.

For new and existing suppliers across the construction and infrastructure market, this is positive news. If your organisation is looking to win business by working on the HS2 project, Tracker provides a platform where HS2 construction tenders are published and all relevant information regarding the tender is accessed.

Tracker’s Commercial Projects tool covers a wide range of construction tenders across the UK. Instead of searching through masses of information on databases, Tracker can notify your organisation directly when a construction tender related to HS2 is published, saving time and resource in searching for the right opportunity. Start being productive with your procurement now.

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By using Tracker, your organisation can access opportunity documents, upload and work on winning responses, track progress and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, at any time – all at the click of a button.

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Scotland budget announcement 2020/21

The Scotland budget was announced on 6 February by the Minister for Public Finance, Kate Forbes MSP, live in Holyrood. The budget comes a month earlier than the UK budget, which will be delivered by Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid on 11 March. This scenario is highly unusual and means that some areas of the Scotland budget, such as income tax, will depend on the outcome of the UK budget.

As expected, however, the Scotland budget delivers crucial investment to tackle the climate emergency, an increased budget in public and health services of over £15 billion for the first time ever, as well as significant increases for infrastructure and other areas to help Scottish businesses thrive. Kate Forbes described the budget as a “bold and ambitious programme” serving “wellbeing and fairness at its very heart” in order to help the future generations of Scotland and those presently most in need.

Tracker highlights the key statistics from the Scotland budget announcement below.

Scotland budgets – facts and figures

Climate emergency

The budget was focused heavily on responding to the global climate change emergency and transforming Scotland through greener initiatives. The following allocations were based on guidance from the Climate Change Emergency action team.

  • £1.8 billion of capital investment in specific products to reduce carbon emissions. This is an increase of £500 million compared with last year.
  • The Scottish Government has committed £250 million to peatland restoration over the next ten years, to be spent on large restoration projects which will enhance biodiversity in some of the most important habitats in Europe and generate more jobs in rural communities.
  • £200 million of revenue-financed investment will go to local authorities to provide an incentive to use the assets available to reduce emissions and boost the economy through the green growth accelerator.
  • £64 million to support the commitment to plant 12,000 hectares of forestry, with the aim to reach 15,000 hectares by the mid-2020s.
  • £120 million for a heat transition deal, to recognise the need to reduce the use of carbon in buildings. This will allow Scotland to seize the huge economic opportunity renewable heat will present – delivering thousands of new green jobs.
  • £2 billion ring-fenced for transformational investment for measures to support the delivery of the Climate Change plan during the next Scottish parliamentary term.

Public services

Another highly anticipated area of the budget was public services. The 2020/21 budget marks a historic moment for public spending in Scotland, being the first time the Scottish Government has allocated more than £15 billion to health and care services, as well as increased funding to support other key public service areas.

  • Spending on general medical services will top £1 billion, for the first time.
  • Investment of £9.4 billion in health and social care partnerships.
  • £117 million of investment in mental health support.
  • Frontline services funding for NHS boards will increase by £333 million, with a further £121 million increase for improving patient outcomes.
  • £72 million investment for Police Scotland, which is above the increase the Scottish Government had promised, in order to effectively maintain officer numbers. This represents a real-terms increase of £37 million to the police budget.
  • An increase in overall funding for rail and bus services by £286 million. This will mean a total of £1.55 billion worth of investment in 2020/21.
  • Investment in active travel will also increase to over £85 million promoting cycling, walking and more sustainable transport.
  • A 3% pay uplift for public sector workers earning up to £80,000.

Finance and business

The Scottish Government is committed to driving the economy further, with plans in place for income tax, infrastructure funding and further investment in affordable housing schemes:

  • £220 million of seed funding for the Scottish National Investment Bank, which is intended to be operational in 2020. This will support the Government’s mission to drive the transition to a net-zero emissions economy.
  • Total spending on finance, economy and fair work will increase from £5,336.8 million to £6,271.6 million.
  • Infrastructure investment will grow to nearly £1 billion in the first year of the National Infrastructure Mission.
  • Affordable Housing Supply programme spending will increase to £843 million.
  • A commitment of more than £800 million to help the Scottish Government continue to progress towards the target of building 50,000 affordable homes by 2021.
  • Scottish income tax is expected to drive £12 billion of investment.
  • No Scottish taxpayer will pay more income tax than they did last year. According to the budget, 56% of Scottish taxpayers will pay less income tax than if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

If the Scottish National Party’s budget proposals are approved, they will come into force from 6 April 2020. However, it is worth noting that these proposals are estimates based on what MSPs think will be the measures and figures announced in the Westminster budget on 11 March; therefore, there may be some changes to reflect later announcements.

Find out more information on what the Scotland budget 2020/21 means for your business on the Scottish Government website.

Tracker can support your business

The Scotland budget 2020/21 offers a positive and exciting prospect for the future of Scottish business, and the time is now to get involved in the lucrative procurement market.

Tracker utilises powerful business intelligence tools to give your organisation the tools needed to find and win more public sector and private sector contracts.

Discover how we can help your business.

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COVID-19: How construction is supporting the health sector

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to cause concern for buyers, suppliers and other stakeholders working in the procurement landscape. However, there are numerous ways in which new and existing suppliers to the construction industry can help. Public health is the UK Government’s priority, and the construction industry plays an essential role in ensuring hospitals, clinics, GP surgeries and NHS trusts have all the resources they require to protect their staff and save lives.

The Government has already asked the construction industry to support its response to COVID-19, which the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said would be a “national effort”. Construction suppliers are among those who have been called upon to help with the production of equipment and materials in the following areas:

  • Protective equipment for healthcare workers, such as masks, gowns and sanitiser
  • Hotel rooms
  • Transport and logistics, for moving goods or people
  • Manufacturing equipment
  • Warehouse or office space, for medical use or storage
  • Expert advice or consultancy on IT, manufacturing, construction, project management
  • Social care or childcare
  • Community support

If your organisation can offer help in any of these areas, visit the website. It is worth noting that public sector spending will not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are thousands of construction tenders available and Tracker is publishing tender opportunities every day which can help in the Coronavirus response effort.

Changes to construction sites

Hygiene measures implemented by the Government mean there have been significant changes to construction site practices. In line with the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists, the Government has implemented precautions designed to reduce the potential spread of the virus including advice that people stand two metres apart in outdoor spaces, including construction sites. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said, “The judgement we have made is that in work [on construction sites], in many instances, the 2 metres rule can be applied.”

This is good news for necessary construction projects that are assisting with the fight against COVID-19, such as supporting the supply of resources, equipment and spaces. Already in East London, one of the worst hit areas of the outbreak in the UK, the ExCel Exhibition Centre has been changed into a makeshift field hospital. With the help of the military and construction suppliers, an initial 500 beds equipped with ventilators and oxygen have been transported, but it is hoped that the ExCel Centre will eventually be prepared to treat 4,000 patients.

The Government is expected to look for more possible sites to change into temporary NHS facilities, to relieve pressure on current NHS hospitals and increase patient capacity. In the meantime, crucial construction works, including maintenance and estates work will continue where possible, as normal. The construction industry will continue to support the health sector where possible; efficient, effective and collaborative procurement will be at the heart of making this happen.

Changes to procurement regulations

Tracker has been bringing suppliers and buyers together in public and private sector procurement for more than 20 years, and our collaboration with both sectors is more important now than it ever has been.

If you want to find out more information on how procurement regulations have adapted for suppliers and buyers due to COVID-19 outbreak, our sister brand, Procurement and Support Service (PASS), has published a series of documents that outline the Government’s Procurement Policy Notes. Read them here to understand how they can help your organisation.

For other information on the COVID-19 response and sectors working together, read our blog.