The Procurement Act: Simplifying SMEs’ route to the Public Sector
The Procurement Act has been making its way through parliament, with a view to transform the way Public Sector procurement works in the UK.
Making the Public Sector more accessible for SMEs is a key aim of the bill. Simplifying Public Sector procurement to make it more innovative, transparent and “to provide new opportunities for small businesses”.
The Procurement Act was first announced as part of the Queen’s Speech in May 2022, with an estimated £300bn to be spent each year on procurement.
The bill covers the full lifetime of procurement – from the time a public body considers what to buy, to the end of the contract.
What will change?
A new approach will be brought in to assess the social value in the award of government contracts through the Procurement Act. For example, contracting authorities must have regard for delivering value for money, maximising public benefit, transparency and citing with integrity.
The Procurement Act also introduces a new procedure for running a competitive tendering process. The competitive flexible procedure ensures contracting authorities can design a competition to best suit their needs.
Contracting authorities will also be able to reject bids from suppliers who post unacceptable risks more easily- this is known as debarment.
What are the main benefits of the Procurement Act?
One of the main benefits of the Procurement Act is the ability to reduce red tape and bureaucracy around procurement. 350 complicated rules which govern public spending in the EU will be removed.
A further benefit the bill hopes to yield is improving transparency – increasing transparency and openness in public procurement by including mandated notices for direct awards and extending publication requirements.
The Procurement Act will also make it easier for businesses to work with the public sector. This will be achieved through the creation of “a single digital platform for suppliers to register their details that can be used for all bids”.
A new competition process for emergency procurements would allow contracting authorities to act at pace. Aiming to improve the procurement process in times of crisis.
The Bill also includes a duty on contracting authorities to have regard to the particular barriers facing SMEs. As well as considering what can be done to overcome them.