The Procurement Bill will contain seven key elements ©  Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Procurement Bill will contain seven key elements © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

How the UK intends to simplify public procurement

13 May 2021

The UK government has revealed further details of the changes planned under the new Procurement Bill.

The Queen’s Speech said the bill would “simplify procurement in the public sector”.

The bill, which is expected to be introduced from September 2021 and follows a consultation on the procurement green paper, will consolidate the current 350 procurement regulations spread over different regimes into “a single uniform regime”. 

In a briefing note, the government said the legislation would “harness the billions the government spends every year on public procurement” and support efforts to spread opportunity across the country.

It will also make it “more accessible for new entrants such as small businesses and voluntary, charitable and social enterprises to compete for and win public contracts”. 

By being able to consider wider social value when picking suppliers, the government said it would allow taxpayers’ money to go further, as well as creating new jobs and skills to drive economic growth. 

It added the bill would “embed transparency throughout the commercial lifecycle” and make procurement data more accessible.

The government is also set to soon publish its first National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS) to “set out strategic national priorities for public procurement and help ensure that the power of public procurement is leveraged to support these priorities”. 

Seven elements the new procurement bill is set to include are:

1. It will enshrine in law the principles of public procurement such as “value for money, public benefit, transparency, integrity, fair treatment of suppliers and nondiscrimination”. 

2. It will overhaul “complex and inflexible procurement procedures” and replace them with “three simple, modern procedures”, which the government said will allow the public sector more scope to negotiate with potential suppliers to deliver innovative new solutions. 

3. Buyers will be required to have regard to the government’s strategic priorities for public procurement as set out in a new NPPS. 

4. Procurement processes will be introduced that allow contracting authorities to buy at pace, for serious situations that are declared a crisis, with strengthened safeguards for transparency. 

5. A single data platform for supplier registration will be established to ensure suppliers only have to submit their data once to qualify for any public sector procurement. 

6. “Unacceptable behaviour” such as supplier fraud will be tackled through new exclusion rules and giving buyers the tools to properly take account of a bidder’s past performance. 

7. Processes for challenging procurement decisions will be reformed to speed up the review system and make it more accessible and cap the level of damages available to bidders in order to “reduce the attractiveness of speculative claims”.

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