‘Gold-plated’ procurement requirements are “rife” in the public sector, according to local government minister Kris Hopkins.
Hopkins made the comments as the Department for Communities and Local Government published a consultation on updated ‘best value’ guidance for local authorities.
The revisions to the Best Value Statutory Guidance include an exhortation that authorities “should avoid gold-plating the Equality Act 2010 and should not impose contractual requirements on private and voluntary sector contractors, over and above the obligations in the Act.”
It goes on to say councils should tackle gold-plating by “minimising unnecessary paperwork and obstacles to contract compliance”, thereby making it easier for SMEs and voluntary organisations to bid for contracts.
Hopkins said: “Costly gold-plating of procurement is rife across the public sector but we are freeing town halls from this tick box mentality so that they can deliver a better deal for local people.
“Small local firms and voluntary groups will be brought in from the cold because for far too long there have been obstacles preventing them from tendering for contracts.
“Our proposals will boost transparency, while helping to ensure services are designed and delivered around the needs of the user by those who really care about the interests of local people.”
Another revision to the guidance reiterates that authorities are legally required to consider social value in services contracts above the OJEU threshold at the pre-procurement stage.
The consultation on the changes to the guidance runs until 20 March.