Public sector contracts are still being published

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 support@tendersdirect.co.uk 

Changes to procurement policy: Responding to Covid-19

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:

  1. direct award due to extreme urgency;
  2. direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights;
  3. call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system;
  4. call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales;
  5. 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.

Wishing you the best of health.


Rapid sanitising technology for ambulances needed to combat Coronavirus

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is looking for innovative and novel ways of cleaning ambulances quickly to help combat Coronavirus.

After transporting a patient suspected of having COVID-19, it can take up to 45 minutes to clean the ambulance used. When you also consider that many ambulance cleaning facilities are located some distance from their hospital or base, current methods are adding delays onto a significantly busy service.

With their new Open Call for Innovation, DASA are seeking help to identify rapid sanitising technology for ambulances. The deadline was originally listed as 1 April 2020 – since first publishing this post, the deadline has been removed and the call is still live.

DASA are looking for solutions which can be deployed rapidly, and will be suitable for use beyond ambulances – trains, buses and even in rooms. There is a particular interest in mobile, easy to use and robust solutions.

More information about this Open Call for Innovation can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-call-for-rapid-sanitising-technology-for-ambulances

Budget 2020: What suppliers need to know

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.

Heathcare

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.

Construction

£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.

Housing

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.

Environment

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

Innovation

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.

Opportunities in the public healthcare sector

At the time of writing, there are over 7,500 healthcare notices published on Tenders Direct in over 300 categories from aprons to vascular dilators and power tools to vaccines. The total healthcare spending in England in 2018/19 was around £129 billion and is continuing to rise. Despite the financial pressures in the NHS, it’s clear that there are is an abundance of opportunities in the UK healthcare sector.

Blurred lines for innovation in public and private healthcare

We’ve been keeping an eye on recent news and trends in the UK. The Financial Times looks at how the lines are blurring for public and private healthcare with digital tools and advice websites changing how patients engage with medicine. In 2018 the NHS launched a tech funding scheme to help bring the public health system up to date with latest innovations emerging from the healthcare start-up community. Health tech start-ups are looking to sell their services directly to consumers in private markets, as well as rolling them out in the public sector. Read the full article here.

A call for designers and providers of digital and mobile health interventions and programmes

On the topic of technology, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have release a draft guideline in which it suggests health professionals can consider digital and mobile interventions as a supplement to regular services to support behaviour changes in people at risk of developing chronic conditions. A consultation on the draft recommendations is open until 6 March 2020, the NICE are inviting comments from designers and providers of digital and mobile health interventions and programmes. Read the full article here.

Looking at new ways of care

Backed by £14 million of investment, seven ‘accelerator’ sites will be the first to deliver new standards for care. As part of the NHS’ longer term plan to support England’s aging population and those with complex needs, local health service and council teams will begin the roll out of Urgent Community Response teams. Further areas across England are to receive extra funding to begin work to the new standards from 2021, with every part of the country covered by 2023. Read the full story here.

Staffing, recruitment and training

As often reported, there is a shortage of nurses in the NHS. There are currently 40,000 nursing roles currently unfilled will the NHS are looking for overseas nurses to fill some of these gaps. Staff from the Philippines and India now make up most of overseas nurses, providing opportunities for recruitment agencies. Read the full article here.

Tenders Direct provides hundreds of keyword categories covering every health-related product and service tendered for, including all those procured which are related to the above articles. From health and social staff recruitment to the provision of new digital technology and everything in between. Thousands of notices are sorted using our unique category system so that we can deliver relevant notices on a daily basis, and you can quickly and easily find relevant opportunities.

Search our categories on Tenders Direct, or contact our team on 0800 222 9009 to see how we can help you find new business for your company.

The challenges of scaling up and winning bigger business – and how Proactis can help

Winning new business is difficult. Often it’s most difficult for new and emerging companies to challenge the established order, especially if they’re doing things in a different way. As businesses expand and develop, they begin to examine different avenues, moving away from ad-hoc smaller pieces of work to looking at more formal access routes to substantial contracts. 

Here we arrive at the wonderful world of bidding, proposals and tendering (you’ll see these terms being used interchangeably, but don’t worry they all mean the same). As potential contract sizes get larger, the demands placed on prospective bidders become ever more arduous and detailed, formal submissions are required for public and private sector buyers alike. 

As you might expect, larger companies have more resources to dedicate to business development and specifically to bidding for work. A recent survey of bid professionals showed just 20% worked in organisations of less than 100 employees and only 12% were the sole responsible resource in the organisation*. 

Unfortunately for smaller organisations, research has repeatedly shown a direct correlation between the level of resource employed in preparing proposals and success rates. The good news for developing organisations is that there are some relatively easy steps to take to improve proposals. A recent industry study shows that nearly half of all procurement professionals believe suppliers are letting themselves down with their proposals and that they are of poor quality. With the general standard being low, smart thinking and some effort can make a big difference.

If you are at the stage where you are or soon will be submitting proposals as part of your business development strategy then we can support you. We offer a range of support from analysis of current bid strategy and support with a live bid to a review of a past proposal.

To discuss, contact Andrew Watson, Bid Consultancy and Training Manager at Proactis Tenders Limited – Andrew.Watson@proactis.com

*APMP UK Compensation Report 2019

A round up of 2019

Another year has passed and we’ve had a busy year at Tenders Direct! We’ve reviewed approximately 68,000 notices and have categorised and published over 40,000 and trained over 150 delegates on our public sector bid writing courses.

Alongside these, we value the feedback we get from our customers, and use this to make continuous improvements to the services that we provide. Key highlights this year have been: 

Opportunity Manager – We’ve upgraded our bid management tool to make planning, preparing and coordinating your day-to-day bidding activity simple from a single pipeline view. You can allocate tasks, set reminders and attach notes for all your bids and create an audit trail of every action.

Competitor Tracking Alerts – A new feature developed to allow you to track the successes of your rivals providing market intelligence on their bid strategy and capabilities, so that you can inform your own public sector strategy. These alerts notify you when any organisation you choose to track are announced as winners of above threshold public contracts.

CPD accreditation – We’re proud to announce that our courses are now CPD accredited. If you’re a member of a professional body, completing one of our one day public sector tendering courses in London, Manchester or Birmingham will count towards your CPD training hours.

Opportunities

Looking back over the last year we’ve seen several articles pointing towards the positivity in the public sector, but one that really stood out to us was a report the Education Technology framework in which it was highlighted that 78% of the 40 suppliers are SMEs. We’ve seen new opportunities in all sectors, from ICT frameworks for education to Green City deals and places on frameworks for niche products that aren’t catered for in traditional commercial agreements. There are opportunities in the public sector for businesses in all industries and sizes and we’ll continue to help you find these quickly and easily.

Brexit

Brexit has, of course, been at the forefront for much of 2019. For the most part the legal framework for public procurement and the different procedures available to contracting authorities will remain the same. Should we result in a no-deal Brexit, one key difference for contracting authorities will be the need to send notices to a new UK e-notification service instead of the current EU Publications Office. Head to Gov.uk for more information, and to keep up to date with information in a no-deal Brexit scenario.

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, whilst there is much uncertainty about what will happen with a confirmed Brexit delay until 31st January 2020, for now, we still remain part of the EU and therefore the new thresholds published by the European Commission will still apply. Read the new thresholds for 2020/2021 here.

As always, if you’ve got any questions related to finding and winning business in the public sector get in touch via our website, or call 0800 222 9009.

New Public Procurement thresholds 2020/2021

New Thresholds

The European Commission published the updated procurement thresholds for 2020/2021 on the 31st of October 2019.

There is still much uncertainty about what will happen next with a confirmed Brexit delay until 31st of January. Much will depend of the results of the upcoming election on the 12th of December 2019.

For now, United Kingdom remains a part of European Union and the new thresholds will therefore apply from 1st of January 2020.

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 IrelandScotland
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015The Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015
The Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016The Utilities Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2016
The Concession Contracts Regulations 2016The 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 ContractsWorks ContractsSocial 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 ContractsWorks ContractsSocial 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 ContractsWorks ContractsSocial and other specific services
Defence and Security Authorities

£378,660

€428,000

£4,733,252

€5,350,000

n/a

 

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Public Contracts Roundup

roundupblog

Some recent hot topics and interesting opportunities from the world of public procurement…

High Spend 2

The BBC has acquired some illuminating documents relating to the High Speed 2 project that are a tad problematic for some ministers. A letter sent by the Transport Secretary to the Chancellor in 2016 shows that ministers were aware of a major cost overrun even before phase 2 of the project was signed off.

This follows regular – and recent – assurances from the Department for Transport that all was progressing according to plan. The second phase of HS2 is now under review… via BBC News

Transatlantic Trade-off

Chlorinated chicken is in the news again as the government ramps up efforts to secure trade deals outside of Europe in expectation of a no-deal Brexit. Opposition to the concept is strong, as it was with the EU/USA Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which was ultimately abandoned in 2016.

Concerns centre around hygiene standards in the US food supply chain – the reason behind the infamous chlorine-washing process for meat products – and increased access to UK public contracts for US businesses. Fears that UK public services could be commercialised will be a key point of contention domestically if and when negotiations commence. via The Independent

Tunnel Trouble

Whether it be ferries or railways, those responsible for managing the UK’s transport infrastructure can’t seem to catch a break. Now it’s the roads: Transport for London has been forced to postpone the award of the Silvertown Tunnel contract – valued at £1 billion – following a legal challenge from the German / Spanish joint venture Silver Thames Connect (STC).

The project aims to relieve congestion in the heavily used Blackwall Tunnel, but the current completion date in 2025 will undoubtedly be pushed back substantially: the light at the end of the tunnel just got further away for frustrated commuters! via building.co.uk


Other recent stories…

HMRC is contacting businesses about no-deal Brexit → via Public  Technology

New funding to assist struggling high streets → via The Guardian

More investment in innovative green transport technology →  via gov.co.uk

Tees Valley Combined Authority announces transport plan → via Public Sector Executive


Top Tenders

Prior Information Notice for the Tipner West Industry Day – Portsmouth City Council are engaging with potential suppliers for the £1.3 billion Tipner Peninsula regeneration project.

Framework Agreement for furniture supply – The Department for Education is looking for the supply and installation of furniture with a projected value of £140 million.

Dynamic Purchasing System for construction consultants – Swan Housing Association has a need for a range of professional services up to a value of £175 million.

 

Follow our channels for the latest public sector news and contract opportunities!

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Public Contracts Roundup

Roundup

What’s new and noteworthy over the last few weeks in the world of public procurement?

No signal

The bane of waste in public procurement – the National Audit Office (NAO) – has again uncovered substantial cost overruns and delays in a large-scale project: the Emergency Services Network. Already expected to cost £9.3 billion – almost 50% over budget – the NAO expressed concern that further delays to the network’s completion are possible.

The network was originally intended to go live this year although this was after an earlier delay that resulted in the whole project being reappraised in 2017, at which point various remedial measures were enacted such as contracts being renegotiated and changes made to it’s management.

The existing radio network – Airwave – will now have to be in place until the revised completion date of the project in 2022, at an additional cost of £1.4 billion.

Read more from ComputerWeekly.com


No Need for Speed

More criticism has been directed at the government on the subject of High Speed 2, this time by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee. Their new report on the largest infrastructure project in Europe has questioned government assurances that the project is on budget and on schedule.

In January the former chairman of HS2 Ltd indicated to the Committee that costs were spiralling out of control, but the Department for Transport denies that this is the case. The report highlighted the risk that any significant cost overruns on Phase 1 of the project (connecting London with Birmingham by 2027) could result in Phase 2 (completing the route to Manchester and Leeds by 2033) being scaled back or even cancelled completely.

One potential solution to the danger of spiralling budgets put forward in the report is to lower the speed of the trains – currently planned to be over 200 miles per hour at maximum velocity – which would help to simplify the construction phase.

Read more from The Independent

Read the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report


No Nationalised Grid

The Labour Party has proposed the nationalisation of National Grid with the stated aim of starting a “Green Industrial Revolution” that would simultaneously lower fuel bills, stimulate economic activity, and combat climate change.

Against the backdrop of global climate protests, they are also proposing a large-scale solar panel installation programme for social housing stock. However, National Grid itself doesn’t seem too keen on the plan, with chief executive John Pettigrew saying that it would “delay the huge amount of progress” being made in the shift towards sustainable power generation and that the policy is not “in the interests” of customers.

Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives aren’t keen on nationalisation either, with Chris Philp MP saying that Labour has no credible plan as to how to pay for their policy and that “more borrowing and tax hikes would be inevitable”. But will either of these parties have enough seats to have a say either way come the next general election? It may be up to Nigel…

Read more from BBC News


Top tenders

Prior Information Notice from NHS Supply Chain for Cardiology, Radiology, Vascular and Endoscopy Products worth between £400 – £800 million

Framework Agreement from LGSS / Cambridgeshire County Council for Archaeological Fieldworks worth between £4 – £6 million

Dynamic Purchasing System from the Construction Industry Training Board for endpoint assessment services worth £12 million

 

 Thoughts or questions? Leave a comment!

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