Category: Social Value

How are our Reviewers getting on?

To provide you with full coverage of public sector tenders from the UK, ROI and OJEU, we rely on our dedicated Review Team. Their role within Tenders Direct is to read, analyse and categorise every English-language contract published in the Official Journal of the European Union as well as every below-threshold notice from across the UK and Ireland. 

Their efforts help simplify searches, and ensure our customers never miss a tender. 

For this post I contacted Cameron, one of our Reviewers, to see how his team are getting on, and to find out what impact lockdown has had on the tenders they are reviewing.  

Q. What is your team working on at the moment? 
We are continuing to review the tenders that come in every day and ensuring our customers are alerted to these opportunities. In the background, we are working on various projects that will help maintain the efficiency and understanding of the review process. 

Q. What are you guys doing to overcome social distancing and isolation? 
Various video calls, to make sure we are seeing faces, hearing voices and checking in on each other. I’ve gone from only ever doing 1 or 2 video calls in my life to about 1 every day! 

Q. How did your team find adapting to homeworking? 
Very difficult to start with. The hardest thing to start with is getting your ergonomics correct so you are comfortably working. After that, the next challenge was adopting routines for the working day – such as taking short breaks away from the screen, switching off at the end of the day and new habits to help with concentration.  

I’m very appreciative of the technology we have in place, it really has allowed us to continue doing what we do with minimal disruption – I do however miss the every day human interaction!  

Q. Have you noticed a difference in the number of tenders being published? 
At the start of the social distancing measures, there were a few days where there were not many coming through, but as the weeks have passed, we are noticing more and more. Where it might be a quieter day from the OJEU, we can usually rely on a good number coming through from the below value threshold tenders.

We have certainly seen an increase in PPE (gloves, masks, clothing) since the lockdown. All research tenders have not been affected and anything desk based has been business as usual. In the last couple of weeks , we’ve seen a big jump in construction tenders which is very promising. 

I think the main thing that has stuck out is that tenders from Ireland have been continuous and when there was a decrease from others, there was certainly a continuation if not an increase in the number of tenders from Ireland.

Q. What has been the most useful tool or app for your team? 
Certainly Teams has been a blessing in group conversations. It’s allowed us to have group messages, video messaging as well as sharing screens – which has really helped collaboration and training. 

Q. Have you adopted any new working habits you think your team will keep? 
I think the use of video technology is going to be very interesting going forward. In terms of habits, I think I could be more active than I was on my lunch breaks, and it will be something I aim to keep up. 


Many of the contracts our Reviewers see have unusual or vague descriptions. We’re the only tender alert service that ensures a person reads each and every tender listed on the site. By categorising each tender they process, they help make our searches more accurate and ensure customers only get alerted to the most relevant opportunities.  

You can try our category search out for yourself and even request a free sample alert to see the real value our Review Team adds. If you would like to find out more about our services, please leave a comment below or get in touch on 0800 222 9009. 

How is our Development Team getting on?

Our Development Team are responsible for making improvements to Tenders Direct and ensuring you get a stellar service from your favourite tender alert provider. 
 
For this post I caught up with Adrian, who is one of our Software Developers, to find out how his team have been getting on during lockdown. 

What is your team working on at the moment?
Most of our recent activity was focused on getting all the new features and fixes ready for our most recent release, which went live on 6 May. The most notable changes include improving navigation in our Control Panel, enhancing the features available in Opportunity Manager, and the modernisation of several customer-facing pages.

Now that the release has gone live, we have started working on our next update and other background work to support continuous product improvement and development – we’re always looking at ways to make things more efficient for our customers.

What are you guys doing to overcome social distancing and isolation?
We interact quite frequently with each other via video-chat. We also have our departmental group on Microsoft Teams where we can have a chat with everyone about anything – which we use quite often 🙂.

How did your team find adapting to homeworking?
The business has great resources and tools to allow home working and with the nature of our job as software developers, the transition for us has been fast and easy.  

What has been the most useful tool or app for your team? 
It definitively has to be Microsoft Teams, apart from the tools that we use daily as software developers, Microsoft Teams has allowed us to quickly and easily communicate with anyone within the company and provides a great platform to hold meetings without losing track of things.


Opportunity Manager, which Adrain mentions working on above, is our tender management tool and is included as standard with any of our subscriptions. The updates included in our recent release for this include: 

  • The ability to create a greater number of progress stages 
  • Advanced tender alerts can now be added to your pipeline
  • External notices can also be added to your pipeline 
  • Addition of a discussions tabs, allowing for the tagging of colleagues and the creation of numerous threads 

If you are not an existing customer, request a demo to find out more.

Funding available: Can you help find new ways to ease global disruption?

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.

Competition guidelines

  • 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

Where to apply

The competition page with further information, and details of how to apply, can be accessed using the link below:
https://www.apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/covid19/overview.html

Who is running the competition?

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.

For more information, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/innovate-uk/about

Public Procurement thresholds 2020/2021

New Thresholds

From 1 January 2021, above threshold tenders in the UK are published on the Government’s new procurement portal, Find a Tender (FTS).

The EU thresholds introduced on 1 January 2020, and detailed below, will remain in place until 1 January 2022. Future thresholds will be determined by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) – which the UK has been a member of since 1 January 2021.

Regulation

The Regulations set out detailed procedures for the award of contracts whose value equals or exceeds the procurement thresholds. Details of the Regulations are given below.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland Scotland
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015
The Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 The Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016
The Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 The Concession Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016
The Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011

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

Public Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

  Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Central Government

£122,976

€139,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

£663,540

€750,000

Other Contracting Authorities

£189,330

€214,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

£663,540

€750,000

Small Lots

£70,778

€80,000

£884,720

€1,000,000

n/a

Small lot is a contract, or part of a contract, that is exempt from the public procurement rules. You can read more about it here.

Utility Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

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

£378,660

€428,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

£884,720

€1,000,000

Concession Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

  Concession Contracts
Authorities

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

Defence and Security Contracts

Thresholds are exclusive of VAT.

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

£378,660

€428,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

n/a

 

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A Closer Look: The Challenge

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All businesses exist to overcome some sort of challenge on behalf of their clients. At Tenders Direct, we specialise in helping suppliers find – and win – public sector contracts. But aren’t public contract notices in the public domain? Surely this information is easy to find? Well, much like a needle in a haystack, relevant tenders for your business are out there but locating them is another matter.

Continue reading “A Closer Look: The Challenge”

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