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New Webinar – An Introduction to Public Sector Tendering

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Looking to start tendering in the public sector? Join our Head of Training and Consultancy, Gemma Waring BA (Hons), for our Introduction to Public Sector Tendering webinar to learn more about basic industry terms and practices.

Date: Friday 27 October
Time: 1.00pm – 2.00pm

Topics covered include:
– The legislation governing procurement in the UK
– Procurement procedures and the tendering stages
– OJEU and thresholds
– Basic rules for writing tenders

Plus, you’ll also have the opportunity to ask Gemma any public sector tendering related questions during the session.

Book your space today

 

 

Calling all SMEs – 4 reasons to work in the public sector

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All this week, Tenders Direct is running an ‘SME week’ to raise awareness for smaller suppliers about the advantages of working in the public sector.

Tenders Direct shared 35,436 UK and Irish low value tender opportunities in 2016, so what are the benefits for SMEs to working in the public sector?

The value in the public sector

The UK public sector has opportunities for all sizes of suppliers: low value tenders can total up to £106,047 and high value tenders can be anything from the latter and into the millions.

See below four reasons why SMEs should consider work in the public sector:

  1. Public spend: In the fiscal year ending in 2017, total UK public spending is expected to be £784.1 billion* meaning there are many business opportunities to take advantage of.
  2. Prompt payment: according to new data from the CCS, public sector buyers aim to pay all invoices within 30 days, with the majority paid within five.
  3. UK Government targets: The government aims to award 25% of public procurement contracts to SMEs.**
  4. Value for money – government buyers have to be transparent with the taxpayer money and have to show how they have delivered this. SMEs won’t be compromised by a larger company if they have a better value proposition than them.

Where are the opportunities?

Tenders Direct can help you be more successful in the public sector by allowing you to spend less time looking, and more time bidding for work by delivering tender notifications right into your mailbox.

Bring home more contract wins

With a team of ex-bid writers and reviewers, Millstream Training and Consultancy have supplier training which can help accelerate your bid response from good to great. Our introductory and advanced courses are continually updated to reflect any changes in procurement legislation, not to mention trends which buyers are looking out for. Visit our website to find out more about the training we offer.

With UK government targets, prompt payment, low value tender opportunities and tendering training for SMEs to take advantage of, SMEs are welcome in the public sector: there is a lucrative source of business opportunities waiting for smaller suppliers over on Tenders Direct.

* ukpublicspending.co.uk

** National Audit Office 2016

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Meeting social value criteria: 5 Steps

Social Value

The Social Value Act came out as legislation from 2012 and has recently hit the headlines again via the Crown Commercial Service.

The act concerns the benefits you, as a supplier, can bring to a public sector contract to improve the local area you are working in. This can be in many different forms such as providing apprenticeships, working on charitable projects or supporting local enterprise development.

From now on, social value is now becoming a weighted part of the evaluation criteria in tendering: what was originally 60% price and 40% quality will more than likely now be moving to 50% price 40% quality and 10% on social value. In fact social value might make up to 20% of the evaluation criteria as has been noted in the strategic approach of local councils such as Knowsley and Manchester.

Suppliers will also have to effectively manage and monitor their social value activity to prove the promises listed in their tender documents come to fruition.

How do you prepare for social value evaluation?

  1. Understand the concept: Some suppliers fall into the trap of thinking they can shoehorn their existing environmental and sustainability actions to fit and this will rarely prove effective. Read these examples from the Crown Commercial Service to gain an insight into social value in practice
  2. Engage with your key buyers: Ask direct questions pre-procurement such as ‘What are your important areas of work in social value?’ You might find synergies between buyers and your company ethos.
  3. Look at your work: Sometimes suppliers may be fulfilling the social value criteria but don’t record it or recognise it. For example: Do you employ locally? Support local suppliers in the supply chain? Offer apprenticeships? Do any community or charity work?
  4. Look at gaps and practicalities of implementing new processes: Suppliers need to fill in any gaps they have in social value activities. But, think through the implications of any additional social value measures you might want to put in place. For example, offering apprenticeships will affect your HR team, line managers and the wage bill.
  5. Document it: Your social value activities are only as valuable as your ability to prove you have done them and that they have been effective. You need to have case studies, data and statistics to quote in your tenders to demonstrate that you have done what you said you would and that it has made a positive impact socially.

 

Here are some additional sources of info on The Social Value Act:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-value-act-information-and-resources/social-value-act-information-and-resources

http://inspiringimpact.org/

https://socialvalueportal.com/social-value-taskforce/

http://www.socialvaluehub.org.uk/

If you require any further support or guidance leave us a comment or get in touch 01224 650 772 or email gemma@millstream.eu

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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Public Procurement Thresholds 2017 – update

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Just before the beginning of last year I wrote this blog introducing the new financial thresholds for mandatory publication of opportunities in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Since then we’ve received quite a number of queries on the subject. Although the current thresholds haven’t changed I thought I’d write an updated blog to include these discussion points.

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  in Scotland.

The current thresholds are as follows:

PUBLIC CONTRACTS

Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Central Government £106,047

€135,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

£589,148             €750,000
Other contracting authorities £164,176

€209,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

£589,148            €750,000
Small lots £62,842

€84,000

£785,530

€1,000,000

n/a

 

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

UTILITY CONTRACTS

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

£328,352

€418,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

£785,530              €1,000,000

 

DEFENCE AND SECURITY CONTRACTS

Supply, Services and Design Contracts Works Contracts Social and other specific services
Defence and Security authorities £328,352

€418,000

£4,104,394

€5,225,000

 n/a

 

CONCESSION CONTRACTS

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: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/GA/TXT/?uri=celex:32014L0023

The UK regulations here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/273/contents/made

The UK Directive gives instruction on how the value of a concession contract should be calculated: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2016/273/regulation/9/made

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 5 186 000.

The Sterling equivalent is £4,104,394.

CALCULATING ESTIMATED VALUE

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.

CONTRACTS SUBSIDISED BY PUBLIC FUNDS

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.

WHAT ARE SMALL LOTS?

My colleague Line recently wrote a blog to clarify this question: https://blog.tendersdirect.co.uk/2017/01/06/procurement-terminology-what-are-small-lots/

HOW DO I KNOW IF A CONTRACT IS CLASSED AS WORKS?

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:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2015/102/schedule/2/made

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.

 

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The end of onerous practices in UK Procurement?

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On Monday of this week the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) released a Public Policy Note (PPN) on ‘Onerous Practices in Procurement and Contracting’. Put simply they are referring to procurement practices which place far too much risk on the supplier. This in

Continue reading “The end of onerous practices in UK Procurement?”

Confronting collusion in public procurement

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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.  Continue reading “Confronting collusion in public procurement”

The Living Wage – The New Public Procurement Guidance

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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? Continue reading “The Living Wage – The New Public Procurement Guidance”

Continued Growth in Public Sector Healthcare Spend

 

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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

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

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.

Continue reading “Will we see an increase in SMEs winning contracts in Ireland?”

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