Category: Public procurement

Free Webinar: Frameworks and Dynamic Purchasing Systems

Frameworks and DPS

The use of frameworks and dynamic purchasing systems (DPS) in the public sector is on the rise. They reduce the amount of work for procurement teams and simplify the tendering process for suppliers.

Make sure you’re prepared to bid for this type of work – join our free webinar to find out what a framework or DPS is, how they operate and what work needs to be done once you are on them.

Date: Thursday 22 March
Time: 1.00pm to 1.45pm

During the webinar we’ll cover:

  • A description of what a framework is and how it operates
  • A description of a DPS and how it differs from a framework
  • An explanation of how to find these opportunities
  • Examples of ‘call-off’ mini competitions from frameworks and DPSs
  • An overview of how to write great bid responses

Book your free place

Free Webinar: Finding and Winning Low Value Tenders

Low value tender webinar

Low value tenders can prove to be a great business development tool for public sector suppliers.

However, as low value tenders do not have to adhere to the full raft of procurement regulations, the challenge is knowing where to find them and how to win them.

Join our Head of Training and Consultancy, Gemma Waring BA (Hons), for this free 45 minute webinar where we’ll outline what rules and regulations govern low value tenders, advise how to win these tenders, plus lots more.

Date: Wednesday 21 March
Time: 1.00pm – 1.45pm

Book your place

Free Webinar: Social Value in Procurement


Calling all buyers! Social Value has been part of procurement legislation since 2013, but what is it? And, more importantly, how should these types of questions appear in your procurement documents?

If you would like a firmer understanding of the topic then join our Head of Training and Consultancy, Gemma Waring BA (Hons), for this FREE webinar.

Wednesday 28 February, 1.00pm til 1.45pm

The webinar will cover:

• A high level overview of the Social Value Act 2012

• An explanation of how it can be implemented in procurement documents

• Examples of Social Value questions

• Advice on how to evaluate them objectively

Book your space

Free Webinar: Social Value in Tenders

Millstream Social Value Webinar

Social Value has been part of procurement legislation since 2013 yet it is just starting to filter down into tender documents on a regular basis – sometimes accounting for up to 20% of the total evaluation.

But what is it? And, more importantly, how can you prepare for it?

If you would like a firmer understanding of the topic then join our Head of Training and Consultancy, Gemma Waring BA (Hons), for this FREE webinar.

Tuesday 27 February, 1.00pm til 1.45pm

The webinar will cover:

• A high level overview of the Social Value Act 2012
• An explanation of how it is being implemented in the public sector
• Examples of Social Value questions that have been seen in recent tenders
• Advice on how to prepare for answering social value questions in tenders

Book your space



New Public Procurement thresholds 2018/2019

New Public Procurement thresholds 2018/2019

New Public Procurement thresholds 2018/2019

The European Commission has confirmed the new financial thresholds to be applied to public procurement. The new thresholds will apply from 1st January 2018 and be in place until the end of 2019.

Could this be my last blog on EU thresholds before Brexit?

Who knows, but here it is…

When procuring goods or services over the financial threshold a public authority must do so under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015. These regulations transposed the European public contracts directive (2014/24/EU) into national law.

The main point of interest from our readers’ perspectives is that buying organisations must advertise any requirement over the new thresholds in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), rather than just advertising it nationally. The calculation of the estimated value of a procurement shall be based on the total amount payable, net of VAT, as estimated by the contracting authority, including any form of option and any renewals of the contracts as explicitly set out in the procurement documents.

Between the 2016/2017 thresholds and the 2017/2018 thresholds we have seen a small increase in the thresholds in both Pounds Sterling and Euros. Due to the relatively small increase it is unlikely that buyers or suppliers will notice much change in the size of contracts advertised at European level.


Supply, Services[1] and Design Contracts Works Contracts[2] Social and other specific services[3]
Central Government[4] £118,133






Other Contracting Authorities £181,302






Small Lots £65,630




[1] With the exception of the following services which have different thresholds or are exempt:
– Social and other specific services (subject to the light touch regime) Article 74.
– Subsidised services contracts specified under Article 13.
– Research and development services under Article 14 (specified CPV codes are exempt).
[2] With the exception of subsidised works contracts specified under Article 13.
[3] As per Article 74. Services are listed in Annex XIV.
[4] Schedule 1 of the Public Contracts Regulations lists the Central Government Bodies subject to the WTO GPA. These thresholds will also apply to any successor bodies.

Social and other specific services are subject to the ‘light touch regime’ as described in a previous blog.


Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Utility Authorities £363,424







Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Defence and Security authorities








 Points of clarification:


For the first time Concession Contracts are covered in EU Law under a separate directive and therefore separate regulations in the UK.

The EU Directive is found here:

The UK regulations here:

The UK Directive gives instruction on how the value of a concession contract should be calculated:

The thresholds for publication in the OJEU refers to Article 8 (1) of the EU Directive which is:

  1. This Directive shall apply to concessions the value of which is equal to or greater than EUR 5 548 000.

The Sterling equivalent is £4,551,413


The calculation of the estimated value of a procurement exercise shall be based on the total amount payable, net of VAT, as estimated by the contracting authority, including any form of option and any renewals of the contracts as explicitly set out in the procurement documents.


All applicable contracts which are subsidised by 50% or more of public funds must be advertised in the OJEU. From time to time a public body may part fund a project and request that the recipient of funding must advertise the procurement in line with public contracts regulations even if their contribution is less than 50% of the overall value. As such any recipient of public funding on a project should verify with the funding body what is expected of them in procuring for the project.


My colleague Line recently wrote a blog to clarify this question:


Many contractual requirements are a mixture of works and services. Whichever element is the highest in value should be taken as the contract nature when determining what threshold to apply. If you are unsure whether a specific element is classed as works or services then you can refer to Schedule 2 of the regulations which lists all activities which constitute works by CPV code:

If the CPV code which fits your requirement is not in that list then it is not classed as a Works contract.

I hope you find this blog useful. If you want more help with understanding thresholds and other public sector tendering procedures, Millstream’s Training and Consultancy team are available to answer any of your questions. Or, leave us a comment below.

Meeting voluntary standards to maximise the triple bottom line



The new ISO 20400:2017 focuses on ensuring procurement has a positive environmental, social and economic impact.

Although this new standard is voluntary, sustainable procurement and careful management of supply chains are vital to achieving a triple bottom line ‘people, planet and profit’.

Millstream’s General Manager, Penny Godfrey, comments further at

Why we love low value tenders


Low value tenders are those which aren’t published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) as they are below the EU threshold set at £106,047.

More information can be found about thresholds in our blog post, but what are the key benefits of low value tenders?

For SMEs and companies who have no experience of working in the public sector, low value tenders are a good starting point. Securing a few low value contracts allows smaller suppliers to build up a body of work that can help them go after high value OJEU notices in the future.

Here are the five key benefits of low value tenders:

Continue reading “Why we love low value tenders”

Top five considerations when bid writing

bid writing

bid writing

If you are a public sector supplier and you’ve found a tender that you want to go for – great news!

Often some areas of a bid response get overlooked in the buzz of bidding for new business. Millstream Training and Consultancy offer bespoke Consultancy to companies looking for tailored support for their tendering exercises. This can be anything from writing a bid response for you, to reviewing a bid response you’ve already written

One of our consultants, Nicola Bramwell (BSc, MCIPS, MSc, PRINCE2), has written her top five ‘must do’s to follow in your next bid response:

  1. Agree a response structure and consistent approach

This can include an overview, technical information, resources, and timeframe, so that the entire team uses a consistent style when preparing a response.

  1. Take advantage of the opportunity to ask clarification questions

Most tenders will provide bidders with a timeframe to which they are able to ask questions relating to the tender e.g. the clauses included in the terms and conditions. It is vital that bidders take advantage of this opportunity to clarify issues which are vague or unclear.

  1. Ensure that all team members adhere to response limitations

It’s common for tenders to include a word / pagination limit for each question so that all bidders are treated equally during the evaluation. If you don’t adhere to these, useful information can be discounted the tender could be deemed non-compliant.

  1. Do not provide non-requested attachments / supporting material

As above, tenders will also specify any additional documents that need to be submitted. No bidder is able to submit documents outside of those specified, if they do, a bidder runs the risk of being disqualified.

  1. Allow sufficient time for responses to be peer reviewed and / or proof read

When writing bids, it is easy for mistakes to be made, such as failing to respond to a certain point within a question or including typing errors or out-of-date information within a response. Get the entire bid to be peer reviewed and / or proof read by another colleague prior to its submission.

To help put these tips into practice, contact us today to find out how we can help you with your next tendering exercise.


When a local tragedy highlights national public procurement concerns


In light of the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy that shocked the nation, questions are being raised over local procurement policies across the country. Cost effectiveness and value for money are often the paramount objectives as local authorities continue to face budget cuts. It is paramount however that quality, and more importantly safety, is not jeopardised. Finding the right balance between cost saving and procuring services and products that are fit for purpose is key, but ultimately the welfare and well-being of the end user should be the priority.

Any buyer knows that cost doesn’t necessarily represent value or indeed quality but regardless, detailed specifications are there to be met and for a very important reason. What and who determines the specification, and exactly what this entails, is an important question and something buyers throughout the supply chain must be conscious of.

British safety regulations across many industries tend to be based on principle rather than set rules[1] which can create significant challenges to maintaining consistency and standards. Setting higher standards and adhering to best practice, rather than going with the cheapest bid which meets the specification, is something public procurement officers and regulators must consider.

This reinvigorates the debate over who should set these specifications and regulations. Should they be written by ‘experts’ from the relevant department of the contracting authority, or by that authority’s procurement officers? Or should this role be out-sourced to a third party within that particular industry and sector?

For example and in the case of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, there are no regulations stating fire-retardant cladding material should be used on the exterior of tower blocks and schools[2]. However, it has become clear that industry body, Fire Protection Association (FPA), has been lobbying for this to be a statutory requirement within local authorities and businesses.

Within just one area of local government procurement, say for instance housing and more specifically high rise residential buildings, the vast number of tenders and therefore specifications to be met, add to the complexity. Issues around accountability and quality rise as the procurement complexity grows. Combined with a need to cut costs, this becomes a significant challenge to overcome and get right. But get right all parties must.

In coming months as the impending public enquiry into the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues, more questions on how to improve the public procurement system will undoubtedly follow. Regardless of its outcome, more focus will be placed on the decisions that buyers make, transparency, and who is most qualified to set specifications.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but nonetheless, there are some important lessons our sector can take away from this tragedy. Steps must be taken to ensure buying decisions are not considered a risk factor in the future.

I am keen to find out how you, as Buyers, feel about the responsibilities you encounter on a day to day basis and how you deal with this pressure. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.








Brexit: A “historic moment from which there can be no turning back” – but what does it mean for public procurement?

eu-1473958_1920After the referendum result last June and the resulting legal challenges, parliamentary debates, votes and royal assent (not to mention the debates down at the pub and on social media) Prime Minister Theresa May has finally triggered Article 50 notifying the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. Whichever side of the debate you found yourself on one thing is now clear – the UK is leaving the EU and that is likely to have a huge impact for us all.

Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, the PM’s letter to the European Council triggering Article 50 made no specific reference to public sector procurement – it’s unlikely to be at the top of any agenda – but point v.i. of her “suggested principle” for the negotiation deals with trade.

If any major change is to come in relation to public procurement it will be as a result on the outcome of the negotiations relating to trade between the EU and the UK. It is important to note that at present and until the negotiations are complete and the UK leaves the EU, the procurement regulations will remain the same. The European Council’s Directive on Public Procurement has been transposed into UK and Scottish law by the current Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and Public Contracts Regulations (Scotland) 2015 respectively. After exiting the EU, the UK will have the option of amending or replacing these regulations but it seems unlikely that they will change drastically.

All EU member states have roughly the same ambitions when it comes to public sector procurement – openness, transparency, fairness, VfM, increasing access for SMEs – and therefore the current regulations were designed with these in mind.

If you were hoping for a removal of perceived EU “red tape” in public sector tendering I believe you’ll be disappointed. Indeed, you may instead experience some “red, white and blue tape” as the UK lawmakers amend the relevant regulations whilst ensuring that all the principles of good public procurement processes remain in place.

If the UK is to become part of the European Economic Area, a status held by the non-EU countries of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein then very little is likely to change. The EEA countries are bound by their membership agreement to follow the principles of EU public procurement and all three countries advertise their above threshold procurement requirements in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).

Even if the UK does not join the EEA, it is still a signatory of the World Trade Organisation’s Government Procurement Agreement, which imposes the principles and practices of fair procurement on all its members. The public sector will still need to purchase what it does today and will need to advertise it openly. This may just mean that the opportunities are advertised on national platforms rather than in the OJEU. Either way you can be sure that Tenders Direct will be picking them all up and distributing relevant opportunities to our members!


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