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 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 for early bids is 1 April 2020.
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.
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.
Looking to learn but too pushed for time? With our free webinars you can join us on your lunch break or watch previous recordings at your leisure. Lasting no longer than an hour, we cover a variety of topics relevant to suppliers. Our next live sessions explore different types of tenders, why they are important, and how to find and win them.
Finding and Winning Low Value Tenders – Tuesday 17th July 1.00pm – 1.45pm
Low value tenders can be of huge value to suppliers of any size, but are not subject to the full raft of regulatory requirements and can be difficult to find. This webinar provides:
An explanation of what low value tenders are
Advice on why they are useful for suppliers
An explanation of how to access them
An outline of what rules and regulations govern low value tenders
In his poem Calmly We Walk Through This April’s Day, Delmore Schwartz observed that “Time is the fire in which we burn”. Anyone familiar with tender submissions will probably have sympathy with this sentiment. After finding a promising contract, it can be quite a struggle to prepare a bid within a limited time-frame while staying on top of existing commitments.
Many suppliers tell us that racing to meet tight deadlines while wading through piles of bid documents only to be rebuffed after all their efforts makes them less inclined to bother bidding at all. This kind of “reactive tendering” can be both exhausting and futile, so what can you do differently?
Try giving yourself a head start by scoping out your targets in advance. Is there a particular buyer you’d like to contract for? If you can build even the most modest relationship with them you can gain useful intelligence about their specific needs and procurement strategy. When they go out to tender, this can help you make your bid as bespoke as possible.
Is there an existing contract that you missed out on or are now in a position to go for? If you establish when it is due for renewal and start your preparations months ahead, you’ll have much more time to perfect your pitch without feeling pressurised. This will leave competitors who only became aware of it when the tender notice was published rushing around while you calmly put the finishing touches on your submission.
Most of us are familiar with this quote widely attributed to Albert Einstein: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” It transpires that there is no record of Mr Einstein saying this, but there is truth to it regardless.
Suppliers struggling to win public contracts should keep this maxim in mind when considering their next move. If your bid has been knocked back, it is crucial that you find out why and take corrective action. Where did you fall down? What were you unaware of? How can you improve?
We find that one of the more common missteps made by aspiring contractors after unsuccessful bids is failing to seek as much feedback as possible from buyers and not conducting a detailed assessment of what they could have done better. Instead of allowing your efforts to be wasted, why not use them to your advantage?
Once a contract is awarded, suppliers are entitled to feedback from buyers including a breakdown of their scores and the characteristics and advantages of the winning bid. Conducting a thorough review of your submission with the information available can provide a wealth of applicable knowledge about your strengths and weaknesses.
Persisting with the same stale strategy may not be insanity, but it is certainly not sensible. If you learn lessons, hone your skills, and adjust your approach, you’ll be a much more powerful presence in the next competition.
One of the most common pieces of feedback we receive from subscribers trying to win their first public contract is that they are tired of being knocked back from promising opportunities, with many minded to give up entirely and focus their efforts exclusively on the private sector.
This is entirely understandable when time and resources are minimal and the workload involved in bidding so substantial, but companies in any industry need diverse revenue streams in order to prosper and grow. Winning your first tender is not so much about the here and now, but about the future: once you have your foot in the door, many more opportunities will open up to you.
In our experience, it pays to be pragmatic when selecting your target. Larger contracts are unlikely to be awarded to a supplier with no previous public sector experience, so below-threshold procurements should be your focus; they may not be worth millions, but winning just one can prove to be a vital stepping stone for any company aspiring to win large government contracts.
In other words, don’t try to run before you can walk. Be selective about your bids and focus on winning one of the more modest contracts in order to give yourself the best chance of success. Your first win allows you to demonstrate your capabilities and gain vital references, which will be invaluable when making your pitch for a larger and more lucrative contract.
Unless you have been living under a railway bridge for the last 10 years, you will know that in 2010 the UK Government approved the plan to create High Speed 2 (HS2): a high speed railway from London to Manchester/Leeds.
Off the rails? Most definitely on. HS2 will shrink the travel time for many commuters and travellers between the cities in the Midlands and London, and for freight by improving lead times on deliveries, that in turn improves customer satisfaction (railtechnologymagazine.com).
HS2 will be one of the most ambitious projects undertaken in this country in recent years. The venture will create tens of thousands of jobs and generate billions of pounds worth of contract opportunities for suppliers in many fields. With 2026 the deadline date for HS2, what have we seen so far in terms of opportunities?