Tenders Direct Blog

Comment from the experts at Tenders Direct.

Jargon Bust – Variant Bids

Posted by Alastair Caithness on January 21, 2015

Variant bids are different from other bidding styles because they are a little more flexible than regular bids.

Typically a bid will not be accepted if it does not meet the criteria, however with variant bids organisations can submit two proposals: one that matches the outlined criteria and one “variation” to increase their chances of winning the business. Variant bids come in many shapes and sizes and can be as simple as a different pricing structure or as in-depth as a proposal detailing a new, innovative way to deliver a service.

Jargon Bust

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UK Chancellor reveals Autumn statement

Posted by Alastair Caithness on December 3, 2014

Funding for health services and freeze on fuel duty

Chancellor George Osborne unveiled his Autumn Statement today, saying he was presenting a forecast which showed the UK was the fastest growing of any major advanced economy.

He pointed to higher growth, reduced unemployment, falling inflation and a deficit reduced to half of what the Government inherited as evidence that the long-term economic plan was working.

Mr Osborne stressed the need to address “problems that remain unresolved in the British economy”.

Key announcements included a complete reform of Stamp Duty, additional funding of £2billion for health services, the doubling of Small Business Rate Relief for another year, a freeze on fuel duty and a rise in personal tax allowance to £10,600 next April.

The main findings of the Office for Budget Responsibility’s forecast were outlined, including:

  • GDP growth forecast at 3%, with 2.4% growth forecast in 2015, 2.2% in 2016, 2.4% in 2017 and 2.3% in 2018 and 2019
  • Borrowing forecast to fall to £91.3bn this year, £75.9bn next year, continuing to a predicted surplus of £4bn in 2018-19
  • Deficit cut in half and predicted to fall to 4% next year, then 2.1%, then 0.7% before moving to surplus
  • Inflation forecast revised down to 1.5% this year, 1.2% next year and 1.7% the following year
  • Unemployment revised down in each year of the forecast, falling to 5.4% next year before settling at 5.3%
  • Meaningful real wage growth” predicted to pick up in 2015 and grow above inflation for the next 5 years

Other announcements included:

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The new EU Directive on Public Procurement: Accelerated Procedures

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on May 1, 2014

Over the coming months the Tenders Direct Blog will cover the changes coming into force as a result of the new EU Directives on Public Procurement. So far we have already covered:

-    The history and a brief overview of the changes (The new EU Directives on Public Procurement have been published!)

This blog will discuss the new procurement procedure ‘accelerated open’ and the changes surrounding the use of the ‘accelerated’ procedures.  Please read our previous blogs and sign up to receive notification when the next in the series is published.

The new EU Directive on Public Procurement: Accelerated Procedures

Within the new Directive on Public Procurement there now exists a new ‘Accelerated Open Procedure’. This is the same as the Open Procedure but with accelerated time-frames. Previously there was only an accelerated option for the Restricted Procedure and the Negotiated Procedure (called ‘Competitive Procedure with Negotiation’ under the new Directive). The introduction of this new Accelerated Open Procedure is hoped to improve the flexibility within public procurement for buyers. It is expected that the introduction of this new procedure will result in a drop in the usage of the Accelerated Restricted Procedure.

These accelerated procedures can still only be used in states of urgency. However, the previous ambiguity around ‘urgency’ has been clarified and the reasons for justifying the ‘urgent’ nature will be more flexible. Unlike the current situation, where the urgent requirements must have been unforeseeable and not within the influence of the buyer, under the new Directive the accelerated procedures can be used where the buyer could foresee the need but failed to act in time to address it.

The time limits for the Accelerated Restricted Procedure and the Accelerated Competitive Procedure with Negotiation have also changed. Oddly, it would appear that the time limits for the first stage notice under the new rules will be longer. It is also worth noting that for sub-central contracting authorities, the need for these accelerated procedures may be unnecessary given the new, much more flexible, rules surrounding the timings that they can set.

When using the mytenders Pro service you will be advised of the correct time limits when creating and publishing notices ensuring that you meet your legal obligations.

Time Limits under the New Directive:
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Posted in Procurement Law | 5 Comments »

The new EU Directives on Public Procurement have been published!

Posted by Kim Postlethwaite on April 8, 2014

Over the coming months the Tenders Direct Blog will cover the changes coming into force as a result of the new EU Directives on Public Procurement. The first of this series will cover the history and a brief overview of the changes. Please sign up to the blog for updates on when the next in the series is published.

The new EU Directives on Public Procurement have been published!

On 28th March 2014 the three new Public Procurement Directives were published in the Official Journal of the European Union. These will come into force on 17 April 2014. The UK has two years to transpose these Directives into national law. It has been rumoured that this may, however, take place as soon as autumn.

The History:

In April 2011 the European Commission communicated its intention to modernise the legislative framework for public procurement and in December 2011 confirmed that this would be carried out by way of reviewing the existing directives. The key objectives of this reform outlined by the European Commission in 2011 were as follows:

  1. Simplify the rules and procedures and make them more flexible.
  2. Increased recourse to carry out negotiations.
  3. Increased use of e-procurement.
  4. Reduce administrative burden on suppliers.
  5. Facilitate a qualitative improvement in the use of public procurement.
  6. Improved integrity in public procurement.
  7. Appointment of national review body to monitor public procurement practices.
  8. Creation of a Concession Contracts Directive to complete the legal framework for European public procurement.

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Posted in Procurement Law | 13 Comments »

Millstream founder shares experiences at Procurement Week

Posted by Alastair Caithness on April 2, 2014

The founder of the company which runs the national procurement portal for Wales presented two prizes at the 2014 Welsh National Procurement Awards in Cardiff.

Tim Williams, managing director of electronic tendering provider Millstream, attended the awards ceremony on Friday (March 21), which marked the end of Procurement Week.

Procurement Week is an annual event staged by Bangor University’s Institute for Competition and Procurement Studies (ICPS) to share knowledge about the latest procurement innovation strategies, law and policies from around the world.

Millstream runs Wales’ national e-procurement database, Sell2Wales – which handles tenders worth around £4.3billion annually – and the Scottish equivalent, Public Contracts Scotland.

Tim Williams is pictured with the Welsh Minister for Finance, Jane Hutt AM

Tim Williams is pictured with the Welsh Minister for Finance, Jane Hutt AM

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Posted in General Procurement | 1 Comment »

Key highlights of March 2014 Budget announcements

Posted by Alastair Caithness on March 19, 2014

UK Chancellor George Osborne delivered his annual Budget speech in Parliament today.

The key points were:

  • OBR growth forecast revised upwards, to 2.7% in 2014, 2.3% in 2015 and 2.6% the following two years, with 2.5% predicted in 2018. The forecast for underlying cash borrowing has been revised downwards, with a small surplus expected in 2018-19.
  • Confirmation that a new £1 coin will be introduced in 2017.
  • Charter for Budget Responsibility to be brought forward in Autumn.
  • Structural welfare cap to be set at £119bn in 2015-16 rising with inflation. A vote will take place next week.
  • HMRC budget for addressing tax non-compliance to be increased with more powers to collect from bank accounts.
  • VAT on fuel for air ambulances to be removed.
  • Inheritance tax for those in emergency services “who give their lives protecting us” to be waived.
  • 15% stamp duty on purchase of residential property by companies to be expanded to cover those valued over £500,000.
  • All long haul flight to carry Band B tax rate for Air Passenger Duty from 2015 and new start-up support for routes from regional airports.
  • Lending for exporters to double to £3bn with interest rates for exporters to be cut by a third.
  • Help to Buy scheme in England to be extended to 2020.
  • Forecast for North Sea oil receipts revised downwards with new allowances to support North Sea investment.
  • Extension of grants for small businesses to support apprenticeships, the annual investment allowance for companies doubled to £500,000 and extended to end of 2015, and business rates discounts and enhanced capital allowances to be extended in enterprise zones for three years.
  • A £7bn package to reduce energy bills for manufacturers including a capping of the Carbon Price support rate from 2016-17, an extension of the compensation scheme for energy intensive industries to 2019-20, and new compensation to protect against the increase costs of the Renewables Obligation and Feed-In Tariffs.
  • The fuel duty rise planned for September will no longer take place.
  • Bingo duty cut to 10% and duty to be raised on fixed odds betting terminals.
  • Alcohol duty escalator to be scrapped, a freeze in duty on whisky and cider and a further cut to beer duty of 1p.
  • Tobacco duty to increase by 2% above inflation.
  • Income tax personal allowance to increase to £10,500 from April 2015.
  • Confirmation of an increase in the maximum tax-free childcare support available to £2,000 per year per child.
  • £140m of funding to repair flood defences.
  • Reform of ISAs into a simpler product with an increase in annual limits to £15,000.
  • Cap on investments in Premium Bonds to be lifted to £40,000.
  • Changes to pensions including a new requirement for guidance on pension choices for those retiring with a defined contribution pension pot, a reduction in the guaranteed income required to access savings flexibility, and an increase in the total savings that can be taken as a lump sum. A new pensioner bond is also to be launched in January 2015 and legislation to remove remaining tax restrictions on pensioner access to pension pots is planned.
  • Abolition of 10% rate on savings income and an increase in the amount of savings to benefit to £5,000 from April 2015.

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Millstream celebrates 25 years in business

Posted by Alastair Caithness on January 14, 2014

Aberdeen-based Millstream, the electronic tendering provider which runs the national e-procurement portals for Scotland and Wales, is celebrating 25 years in business.

From its early days in the late 1980s in Aberdeen, with just three staff and a team of about 30 contractors, Millstream now has almost 50 staff and has successfully built its Tenders Direct and myTenders websites, which provide private companies with tender information on new business opportunities in the public sector. Read the rest of this entry »

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EU Commission opens inquiry into UK financing for SME’s

Posted by TD Admin on November 22, 2013

An inquiry to examine whether a UK scheme allowing publicly-backed funds to invest in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is being implemented in line with EU state aid rules. The opening of the inquiry gives interested third parties the option to comment on the measure under assessment.

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Posted in General Procurement, Politics of Procurement, Procurement Law | 2 Comments »

2014 PQQ & Bid Writing Workshops, London and Manchester now available

Posted by TD Admin on November 20, 2013

Be honest, could your win rate be improved? Are you struggling to hit your revenue targets? Are you new to PQQ and Bidding and need a helping hand? Read the rest of this entry »

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Audit Commission – councils need to do more to tackle fraud

Posted by TD Admin on November 19, 2013

The Audit Commission study found more than three quarters of all fraud was detected by one quarter of councils, and 79 per cent of district councils detected no non-benefit fraud at all. The number of fraud cases detected by local authorities fell to 107,000 cases with a total value of £178 million in 2012-13, but with an overall 15 per cent increase in the average value per case to £1,664.

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Posted in General Procurement, Politics of Procurement, Tender Tips | Leave a Comment »


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