The Government has been very responsive in making changes to procurement policy to help protect suppliers, their workforce and their supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their latest PPN: Use of Procurement Cards, is aimed at maintaining cashflow to suppliers, while also ensuring the public sector is able to access goods and services quickly.
What has been introduced with this PPN? Procurement Cards are being highlighted as the preferred method for purchasing goods and services, and the key points from this document are:
Single transaction limit increased to £20,000 for key card holders
Monthly limit on procurement card spend set to £100,000
Monthly procurement card spend in excess of £100,000 is permissible to meet business needs.
Opening up of more purchase categories providing access to a greater range of goods and services.
Above points apply to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies.
Effective immediately as of 6 April 2020
What are procurement cards? Procurement Cards are essentially charge cards used to purchase goods and services directly. These cards allow for instant payment and avoid the need to go through any forms of purchasing processes.
What is the benefit of using Procurement Cards? The instant transactions are the major benefit to suppliers, receiving prompt will help them to protect their business, their employees and their supply chains.
By making Procurement cards the preferred payment method and increasing their spending limits, the Government is helping contracting authorities follow the instructions set out in previous PPN: Supplier relief due to COVID-19 – which focuses on prompt payment to support businesses and protect jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Businesses of all sizes are feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and on March 20th the Cabinet Office issued reassurance to suppliers with the Procurement Policy Note: Supplier relief due to COVID-19. The document serves as guidance for public sector bodies on protecting suppliers, their workforce and supply chains, helping to ensure service continuity now and into the future.
The policy changes have been put in place with immediate effect until 30 June 2020, and the key actions are:
Urgent review of contract portfolio and inform suppliers who they believe are at risk that they will continue to be paid as normal (even if service delivery is disrupted or temporarily suspended) until at least the end of June.
Put in place the most appropriate payment measures to support supplier cash flow; this might include a range of approaches such as forward ordering, payment in advance/prepayment, interim payments and payment on order (not receipt).
If the contract involves payment by results then payment should be on the basis of previous invoices, for example the average monthly payment over the previous three months.
Ensure invoices submitted by suppliers are paid immediately on receipt (reconciliation can take place in slower time) in order to maintain cash flow in the supply chain and protect jobs.
To qualify, suppliers should agree to act on an open book basis and make cost data available to the contracting authority during this period. They should continue to pay employees and flow down funding to their subcontractors.
As a supplier, the final point highlights that during this period, you will need to work collaboratively and ensure there is full transparency and operate on an ‘open book’ basis. This means you should share data if requested, to demonstrate the payments you receive have been used in the manner intended.
The PPN provides full details of how public sector bodies are to respond to issues that will affect contract delivery and are a direct result of COVID-19.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has created a totally unprecedented number of challenges individuals and businesses around the world.
Social distancing is forcing businesses to adapt rapidly and for others, it has unfortunately meant closing their doors permanently. Even with daily updates, there is uncertainty of what news tomorrow will bring and no clear indication of when things will return to normal.
In order to ease the impact of COVID-19, and any other possible global disruptions, the UK is investing up to £20 million to develop innovative and ambitious ideas to address the needs of society or industry.
If your business has the means to help, this competition could help you make a significant contribution to the nation, and secure up to £50,000 as an upfront payment to cover the costs of your project.
The competition is open until midday on Friday 17 April 2020
Businesses of any size may apply
Winning projects to be awarded grants of up to £50,000 and for them to last up to 6 months
Businesses can attract 100% of their project costs
Projects must start by June 2020
Projects with strong potential could attract follow-on funding.
The examples given on GOV.uk for project ideas include:
new platforms and software for music artists to stream live performances, connect remotely to their fan-base and allow global audiences to enjoy their live experience
new ways for families to connect with and remotely monitor their elderly or vulnerable relatives and ensure they are receiving what they need, including food deliveries, doctor appointments and help to pay bills
technology to help retailers to better respond better to spikes in customer demand, including to ensure they can deliver country-wide
new education tools that allow teachers to remotely set tasks that keep the whole class together, support vulnerable children and ensure no-one is left behind
The competition is being run by Innovate UK, which is part of UK Research and Innovation – a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. Their role is to drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.
In the last week, over 550 contract award notices were published across the UK – below you will find three of the top notices from the last 7 days.
Title: United Kingdom-Caerphilly: Tyres for heavy/light-duty vehicles Published By: National Procurement Service (Welsh Government) Date Published: 03 April 2020 Framework/DPS: Yes Value excluding VAT: £64,000,000.00 Number of tenders received: 9 Contractors: Vaculug Technologies, Tructyre Fleet Management Ltd, Direct Tyre Management Ltd, Exhaust,Tyres and Batteries (Worcester)Ltd, Inn Tyres Ltd, Kp Tyres, Tuf Treads, Protyre-Celtic Tyres
Access the full tender notice with your Tenders Direct login details HERE
Title: United Kingdom-Runcorn: Pharmaceutical products Published By: The NHS Commissioning Board (Operating Under the Name of NHS England) Date Published: 07 April 2020 Framework/DPS: Yes Value excluding VAT: £445,000,000.00 Number of tenders received: 6 Contractors: AbbVie Ltd, Amgen Ltd, Biogen Ltd, Fresenius Kabi Ltd.
Access the full tender notice with your Tenders Direct login details HERE
Title: United Kingdom-Bedford: Construction work for highways, roads Published By: Bedford Borough Council Date Published: 09 April 2020 Framework/DPS: No Value excluding VAT: £20,000,000.00 Number of tenders received: 4 Contractors: Hanson Quarry Products Europe Ltd
Access the full tender notice with your Tenders Direct login details HERE
Are your competitors listed above? Would you like to know their public sector success rate, market share and the types of opportunities they’re targeting? With our Competitor Tracking Alerts, you can view their past wins with our five year archive of award notices, and receive alerts when any organisation(s) you choose are announced as winners of above threshold public contracts. For more information, please contact us on 0800 222 9009 to discuss further.
While things may seem a little uncertain, we can assure you that there are still plenty of public sector contracts being published. We are keeping track of the number of tenders we source, categorise and publish each day, and we have to say it’s looking good.
In March 2020 we saw:
2,938 new UK public sector tenders for March 2020
1003 new ROI public sector tenders for March 2020
20537 new EU public sector tenders for March 2020
At the time of writing, on Tenders Direct we have:
2397 live UK tenders
885 live ROI tenders
20513 Live EU tenders
These numbers mean there are an incredible number of opportunities for you to secure business now and in the future.
If you supply the public sector with goods or services that are in high demand right now, please keep an eye out for notices with accelerated timescales. Recent UK policy changes allow public sector buyers to speed up tendering procedures in order to secure resources as a ‘matter of urgency’.
There may be increased competition for tenders with companies exploring new options of securing future business. If you have any doubts about the quality of your submissions, and would like some assistance, we do offer a range of virtual consultancy services. Our experts can review your bids and highlight where you are going wrong or even take a more active role in the preparation of your submissions. If you would like any support, please get in touch on 0800 222 9009 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
On March 18th, the government acknowledged the strain on the public sector by making changes to procurement policy, and ensuring resources can be sourced as a matter of urgency.
These policy changes allow for the following:
direct award due to extreme urgency;
direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights;
call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system;
call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales;
extending or modifying a contract during its term.
What does this mean for suppliers?
If buyers can demonstrate that they have an ‘extreme urgency’ for goods, services or works, and/or there are no other suitable suppliers, they can enter into contracts without competing or advertising as long as they have satisfied several criteria categories. On top of this, buyers also have the ability to make changes or extend existing agreements.
For accelerated timescales, you will have to pay very close attention to tender notices:
Check your tender alerts thoroughly.
Make sure you have the people and resources needed to complete your bid.
Ensure your pricing strategy works for your business.
Check you have addressed all the key criteria.
For suppliers providing ‘non-urgent’ goods and services
Despite uncertainty with other industries, the public sector will always have a requirement for goods and services. In the last week, the number of tender notices published for the UK was 1613, which is not far off the weekly average of 1664 seen in 2019. Looking across the UK, ROI and EU, there are around 25,000 live notices.
There is reassurance in knowing that there is still a drive to maintain normality during such unprecedented circumstances. We will be keeping a close eye on these figures and letting you know if there are significant changes and providing you with more insight into the sectors that may be affected.
We hope your workplace has not been affected too dramatically by the unprecedented situations caused by COVID-19.
The UK’s first Budget as a non-EU state was announced on 11th March 2020 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who had only 4 weeks preparation time, after the surprise resignation of his predecessor Sajid Javid.
There were plenty of predictions for what we could expect to see within the budget, including tampon tax, tuition fees and inheritance tax (all of which were covered). However, for this post we will look at the announcements that are significant to suppliers seeking public sector contracts.
Coronavirus is a big issue as it can, and likely will, affect most businesses across the UK. The Chancellor mentioned that there will be ‘significant impact on the UK economy,’ but this will be short lived and ‘life will return to normal’. To combat the risk of 1/5 of the working age population being off work, the NHS will receive the funding it needs ‘whether it’s millions of pounds or billions of pounds’, to combat this virus. The three point Coronavirus outbreak plan has a value of £30bn – but will receive further funding if necessary.
An extra £6bn will be spent on the NHS to pay for 40 new hospitals, 50,000 nurses, and 50 million more GP surgery appointments. This is in addition to the £34bn which has already been promised to the NHS over the next 5 years.
£5.2bn was announced to help protect over 300,000 properties across England from flooding over the next 6 years.
The biggest investment in infrastructure since 1955 was announced with a budget of £600bn – this will be divided as follows:
£790m for England
£640m for Scotland
£360m for Wales
£210 for Northern Ireland
A significant £2.5bn pothole fund was announced to tackle an estimated 50m potholes across England over the next 5 years.
A safety fund of £1bn will be used to remove unsafe cladding from buildings above 18 metres tall in response to the Grenfell fire.
Affordable homes programme extended, with £1.1bn allocated to create 70,000 new homes in high demand areas.
£650m will be used to tackle homelessness, with the aim of providing an extra 6,000 places for rough sleepers.
The government are keen to promote greener transport and have allocated £500m towards creating new electric car charging points.
A £270m Green Heat Networks scheme will encourage the adoption of low carbon heat sources.
£640m Nature for Climate Fund will plant over 40 million trees and restore 35,000 hectares of peatland across England.
£9.2 million funding package to introduce smart waste tracking and schemes to tackle fly-tipping more effectively
By 2024, the government wishes to invest £22bn a year into innovation. This is £4bn more than previously promised, and is claimed to be ‘the fastest and largest increase in R&D spend ever’.
‘The government will invest that money in the people, ideas and industries that will cement the UK’s world-leading position in science and technologies ranging from nuclear fusion to electric vehicles and life sciences.’
With such a significant investment, many exciting opportunities will open up for a range of organisations, helping the UK hold a leading position in science Post-Brexit.
What impact will this have on public procurement?
The impact of Corona virus will be unavoidable, but the measures the government are willing to take are reassuring. The significant investment in prevention and treatment will limit the impact this virus has on the workforce and business as a whole.
Overall, the substantial investment in health and infrastructure can only result in more contract opportunities for suppliers. The public sector will need companies to build hospitals, fix roads and develop housing.
Most interesting is the investment in ‘Innovation’. This funding will give suppliers scope to help the UK hold world-leading positions across numerous sectors – creating opportunities where there might have been none previously.
Now that the budget has been announced, contracts will be getting drawn up and issued promptly. Ensure you get notified of these opportunities first with www.tendersdirect.co.uk
If you have any questions or thoughts on the budget, leave them in the comments below.