Posted: Mon 6th Dec 2021
A single registration platform so suppliers to the public sector only have to submit their details once are among new plans aimed at helping small companies win government contracts.
There are more than 350 regulations governing public procurement which can put confused small businesses off from pitching for a contract. In its response to a consultation on simplifying and removing red tape, the government said it will tackle the issue by creating a "single, uniform framework" so firms only have to register once to qualify for any public sector procurement.
In other measures, which are expected to be included in a new procurement bill next year, new rules will allow procurers to put more weight on "social value" such as creating jobs and supporting the transition to net zero carbon emissions. Ministers hope the change will encourage local councils to source more products and services from local companies.
The Cabinet Office recently published a new guide to help small businesses bid for public sector work and get a share of the more than the £290bn that central and local government spends on goods and services every year.
Government departments have also published action plans setting out how they will do more business with SMEs.
Tackling underperforming public sector suppliers
Among the other proposals announced today, the government will be able to ban suppliers from winning public contracts if they deliver poor value or break the law such as a lax approach to safety or environmental concerns.
It will also set up a new unit to oversee public procurement and intervene if contracting authorities’ compliance with procurement regulations needs to be improved.
Amid the controversy around how face masks and other safety equipment was sourced by the government during the COVID-19 pandemic, emergency contracts will not be able to be given out without a competitive tendering process.
In addition, procurement data will be made publicly available so anyone can see how taxpayers' money is being spent.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: "Leaving the EU gives us the perfect chance to make our own rules for how the government’s purchasing power can be used to promote strong values.
"While doing so we’re increasing transparency and ensuring that procurement remains fair and open.
"These simpler and more flexible rules will also make it easier for small businesses to win work – placing levelling up at its heart."
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