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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