Tenders Direct Blog

Comment from the experts at Tenders Direct.

Building on the outcome of Brexit

Posted by emilypirie on October 12, 2016


Brexit: we don’t know what the impact on public sector spending will be and whether the approach to procurement as a result of the leave vote will change. The construction industry has seen uncertainty growing more recently and the impact of a potential EU exit is unknown.

Despite increasing uncertainty in the run-up to the referendum, over 1,900 public sector construction tenders were published, an increase of 29% compared to the six months prior and mirroring growth seen over the last two years with a particular increase in tenders for roads infrastructure, renewable energy and new build housing.

The public sector has a large construction project pipeline which includes new and ongoing infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the completion of affordable housing projects across the country which remain in high demand. Regardless of the leave vote, projects of this nature will carry on and continue to create future opportunities.

Public procurement is governed by UK regulations which originate from EU Directives, there won’t be any change for some time as the UK negotiates its exit. The current regulations will remain in force until they are repealed or revised. As we can see the Government has much higher priorities than revising a system that generally works well. So what could happen if the UK continues to have access to the Single Market? there will be very little change to public procurement and without it, the UK will likely operate under the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). This provides similar access to bidders from the countries that are signatories meaning that UK construction contractors will be able to bid on contracts in Europe, whilst at the same time European contractors will be able to bid here in the UK.

For now, the approach from construction suppliers looking to bid for public sector work will not be altered by any changes to regulations.  Companies must ensure that they continue to meet the requirements set out in the tender, demonstrate efficiencies and remain competitive against the competition – it’s business as usual.

Ultimately, there is no reason why leaving the EU should mean that the public sector ‘downs tools’ on construction projects. Continued investment in the sector will have a direct, positive impact on confidence, growth and continued recovery. For now, we will just have to keep a watchful eye on proceedings…

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The new Selection Questionnaire – the end of the PQQ?

Posted by Gemma Waring on September 30, 2016



A simplified selection stage has been welcomed by both suppliers and buyers in the public sector.


On 26 September 2016, the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) released the new Selection Questionnaire which is, with immediate effect, replacing the Standard PQQ which was itself only released in February 2015.

So why the change? What exactly has changed? And, most importantly what does this mean for suppliers to the public sector?

Why the change?

The form has been changed to align closer with the text and structure of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD). The usage of the ESPD has been mandated across Europe and will be rolled out fully across the UK in the near future. The ESPD has been created to make tendering easier for smaller businesses, a key driver of the amendments to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and means that suppliers can submit their ESPD during the selection stage rather than full tender documents.

So, why do we need the new Selection Questionnaire then? Simply put, the system in place in England is not yet able to roll out a uniform ESPD platform. So, for now the buying authorities can accept the ESPD, the Selection Questionnaire or use a procurement portal such as Millstream’s mytenders

What exactly has changed?

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Posted in General Procurement, Procurement Law | 2 Comments »

Confronting collusion in public procurement

Posted by John Cutt on September 13, 2016


Back in June, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) published an open letter to procurement professionals announcing new guidance and learning resources designed to help combat collusion between suppliers bidding for public contracts. Along with a text summary, the new resources include an e-learning module and some admirably accessible and informative animated videos. Unsurprisingly, this development in the battle against illegal anti-competitive practices received a warm reception in procurement circles, with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply and the Local Government Association making the resources available to their members. This move can be seen as a small but positive step forward in efforts to protect the public sector’s reputation as a fair and transparent place to do business and should be applauded.


We last touched on this subject in 2009 following a round of fines imposed by the Office of Fair Trading (superseded in 2014 by the CMA) on over one hundred construction firms found to be guilty of bid rigging. The size and stature of many of the companies involved was surprising: not so much dodgy purveyors of rickety garage conversions, more a who’s who of premier league construction companies. Some in the industry expressed concern over potential job losses resulting from the fines, but we felt that these sanctions were not overly punitive when framed as a percentage of turnover. Indeed, some of the firms had their fines reduced substantially under the CMA’s leniency policy in return for confessing when first confronted.  Read the rest of this entry »

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The Living Wage – The New Public Procurement Guidance

Posted by Cindy Cheng on September 9, 2016


The Scottish Government launched its new public procurement guidance to promote fair work practices last October. Now that we are almost three quarters of the way through 2016, are you familiar with the new guidance yet? Read the rest of this entry »

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Continued Growth in Public Sector Healthcare Spend

Posted by Duncan Dallas on August 17, 2016


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Does your company provide products or services for healthcare services? If so, you should have more opportunities for bidding on public sector healthcare contracts.

Having analysed the volume of opportunities distributed by our Tenders Direct service we have found a 17% increase in public sector healthcare procurement contracts published in the last 12 months compared to the previous 12. This marks a third consecutive year the number of healthcare tenders has increased on the previous year.

A rise in outsourcing public health services, such as dermatology, ophthalmology and dental care, has contributed towards this increase.

The volume of tenders within community and out-patient healthcare has grown significantly. In particular, we’ve seen a 23% increase in the category for home care, sheltered housing, domiciliary care, day care, community care, respite care, end of life care.

So, why have we seen this increase?

In the public sector, there’s an encouraging trend for proactive healthcare such as a notable increase in tenders associated with ‘The Healthy Child Programme’ – the government’s early intervention and prevention public health programme. Tenders for NHS Health Checks and mental health services have also seen growth.

These trends go hand-in-hand with calls for improved cost and operational efficiencies within the healthcare sector. Earlier this year in his review of NHS England Trusts Lord Carter made fifteen recommendations on improving efficiency through better management of resources, transparency and streamlining services.

NHS Trusts in England are tasked with making £1 billion of savings specifically related to procurement, and it is therefore unsurprising that this process is becoming increasingly digital through eProcurement.

Thirty to thirty-five per cent of total NHS spending is on procurement so it’s important that efficiencies are made where they will have most impact.

We’ve seen first-hand how clarity and simplicity accelerates the procurement process and brings added transparency. This is critical in delivering the efficiencies set-out in the Carter Report but also drive further growth in private sector industries.

Have these increases in opportunities had a positive effect on your business? Please feel free to comment below.

If your organisation buys or sells healthcare products or services in the public sector or if you’d like advice on developing your tendering skills to win new contracts, visit our portals:

Link to Tenders Direct homepage        myTenders logo     LearningAndConsultancy2

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Will we see an increase in SMEs winning contracts in Ireland?

Posted by Line Olsen on July 29, 2016

The Irish Public Sector spends €8.5 billion on goods and services annually.  Is your company getting a slice of this cake? Have you considered how to get into this market?

Did you know that if you are among the 99.7% of active enterprises in Ireland defined as an SME, statistically speaking, you have a higher chance of winning a contract than SMEs in the rest of EU? Where the European Commission reports that SMEs win 45% of the aggregated value of contracts, the Office of Government Procurement has previously reported that SMEs win an estimated 66% of contracts in Ireland.

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Wales: a clarification

Posted by John Cutt on July 6, 2016

Wales football

After drawing Wales in the Euro 2016 office sweepstake a few weeks ago, I may have inadvertently given the impression to my colleagues that I was in some way not utterly ecstatic at the outcome. I now accept that my use of various profanities and the term “unmitigated disaster” may have misconstrued my true feelings on the subject. I am happy to clarify that I have always had the utmost confidence in the Welsh national team, fully expected them to make it to the semi-finals as a minimum and consider it a privilege to have invested £2.00 in their endeavour to stay in Europe (albeit for football and binge drinking only).

Although Millstream specialises in public procurement rather than football punditry, we have been impressed by the interest shown by some attendees of the tournament in our area of expertise: it was particularly gratifying to see a fringe element of Remain supporting England fans attempting to stimulate French public sector expenditure by facilitating massive overtime payments to the Gendarmes and street sweepers of Marseilles and Lille. Faced with a wave of criticism after the abject humiliation of his team of spoilt divas being defeated by plucky Icelandic amateurs, England manager Roy Hodgson reluctantly agreed to face the media despite being privately encouraged by Boris Johnson to follow his lead by abdicating all responsibility for the outcome.

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Millstream’s Tenders Direct & Brexit

Posted by Tim Williams on June 29, 2016

BrexitClearly Brexit is a very hot topic at the moment and most people are probably wondering what it will mean for their lives both personally and professionally. Although public procurement is governed by UK regulations, these originated in EU Directives so we thought it might be helpful to set out our views on how Brexit might affect the service we provide to you through Tenders Direct.

  1. What happens now?

Well at the moment, nothing changes; this includes the financial thresholds that govern whether a contract must be published at a European level in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Although the value of the pound has dropped against the Euro following the vote to leave, the exchange rate for procurement purposes is fixed at 2 yearly intervals and so it is not due to be revised until 1st January 2018.

The two year period of negotiations leading to the UK’s exit from the EU will not begin until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked by the UK giving formal notice. In the meantime, the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 the Concession Contracts Regulations and the Scottish equivalents of these regulations (“the Public Procurement Regulations“) still apply and are in full force. This means that contracting authorities need to continue to comply with the rules and bidders can continue to enforce their rights if they believe there has been a breach.

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Millstream reaction to Brexit vote

Posted by David Law on June 24, 2016

After months of campaigning, debates and opinion polls the people have spoken and decided that Britain should leave the European Union. Once the dust has settled on the result the long and arduous task of the Government negotiating an exit will begin.

One of the key questions coming out of this result is: will the UK retain access to the Single Market, through membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA)? This is what Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland have done but it remains to be seen whether the UK will decide to pursue this option as it will require us to contribute to the EU budget, accept the free movement of EU citizens and to implement European legislation relating to the Single Market. The obligations are very similar to those required of full EU members, but without representation on any of the decision making bodies. It is also doubtful whether the EU will agree to UK membership of EFTA.

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Public Sector Construction – Getting better all the time

Posted by David Law on June 10, 2016

The Public Sector is providing more and more contracts for Construction sector suppliers. Although times were tough for the industry following the recession, things have rebounded and opportunities have never looked better for suppliers and contractors working with the Public Sector. The future looks brighter still with this sector having a projected average growth of 2.6% from 2015-18.

Certain sub-sectors of construction have had significant increases over the past year. A 12% increase in road related tenders, 8% increase in new build tenders, 25% increase in architecture/design team tenders and the biggest increase is in the renewable energy sector (areas like solar power, wind power and geothermal) of around 35%.

With the High Speed 2 project, floods defence work, major road schemes across the UK, along with affordable housing and other projects it’s no surprise that things have rebounded in this sector.

Millstream has created an infographic on this to highlight the key facts and you can view this here: Construction Infographic

More than 4,000 private sector companies use Tenders Direct to find new business opportunities, of those over 950 are construction businesses, accounting for around 22% of the customer base. Tenders Direct work with thousands of public sector organisations in the UK, Ireland and Norway to publicise their contracts, allowing direct access to contracts that many are unaware of. The dedicated research team solely identify contracts and include them within the Tenders Direct database – many of these are smaller contracts that would not be published by the Official Journal (OJEU) or on any other central resource.

The Tenders Direct team, also manually categorise all tenders to ensure that only highly relevant opportunities are provided and therefore personalised to individual preferences and areas of specialism and are sent to subscribers every day.

To find out how Millstream can help you find opportunities in public sector construction, call 0800 270 0249 or visit www.millstream.eu


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