Procurement: Government confirms plans to overhaul public procurement in England, plus share your views
15 December 2021
The Cabinet Office has published the Government’s response to the public consultation on Transforming Public Procurement, which ran earlier this year, confirming that it intends to implement its plans to reform public procurement in England.
In IWFM’s response to the consultation Green Paper (link here), we supported the Government’s broad aims: to speed up and simplify procurement processes; introduce greater fairness, flexibility, innovation, transparency and competition; place value for money at the heart of the system; and generate greater social value in public service delivery. We also called for greater embedding of social value and prompt payment within the core of any new regulatory framework
We welcome the Government’s response (to read it in full click here), which echoes our views on the actions needed to bring about a long overdue change in procurement culture. The proposals which the Government intends to implement in legislation will have a wide-ranging impact and include:
- Simplifying and consolidating current legislation (the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011) into a single, uniform regulatory framework. However, they do plan to ensure that certain flexibilities within the Utilities Contracting Regulations are retained
- Government will retain the Light Touch Regime which will retain the flexibility of the current regulations and will be improved in line with the broader regime changes such as the noticing and transparency requirements
- Enshrining in law the principles of public procurement (the public good, value for money, transparency, integrity, fair treatment of suppliers and non-discrimination)
- A single, centrally funded, free-to-use digital platform for supplier registration that ensures businesses only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement
- Replacing current procurement procedures with three new ones:
- a ‘flexible competitive procedure’ that gives buyers freedom to negotiate and innovate
- an ‘open procedure’ that buyers can use for simpler ‘off the shelf’ competitions
- a ‘limited tendering procedure’ that buyers can use in certain circumstances, such as extreme urgency
- Helping to tackle payment delays in supply chains by:
- giving small businesses, charities and social enterprises direct access to contracting authorities to escalate payment delays
- a right for public bodies to look at the payment performance of any supplier in a contract supply chain
- aligning private and public sector payment reporting requirements
- Changing the term ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender’ to ‘Most Advantageous Tender’ in the awarding of contracts in order to reduce the historic narrow focus on price and encourage accounting for social value
- Promoting transparency through a Contract Performance Register and a Contract Implementation Notice to bring KPIs into the public domain and populate the register of contract performance
- A new Procurement Review Unit focusing on non-compliance, improving standards and ensuring greater consistency, incorporating the activity of the existing Public Procurement Review Service.
We anticipate that these changes will not be implemented before 2023 at the earliest. Once the legislative process has concluded, the Government plans to give a minimum of six months’ notice, as well as guidance, training and other support, to help procurement and commercial professionals to prepare for the new regime.
IWFM will engage with expert stakeholders to consider the potential impact of these changes, whether they meet the needs of the profession, and how we can best support members to prepare for their implementation.
Prompt payments: please share your views
Prompt payments remains one of the areas where improvement needs to be achieved. In addition to the issue’s inclusion in the government’s plans to reform procurement, there is parallel activity to try and understand the impact on small businesses better.
We would like your feedback to help us respond to a government survey looking at whether small businesses are being affected by poor payment practices. If you have views on the following questions, please click on the appropriate link (to Linkedin posts) and submit your comments:
- How would you like to see larger firms in our sector improve their payment practices? (link here)
- Do you think your customers try to behave ethically when it comes to payments and pay fairly? (link here)
To find out more about our work in this area, please visit our Procurement web page.