The Government has been very responsive in making changes to procurement policy to help protect suppliers, their workforce and their supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their latest PPN: Use of Procurement Cards, is aimed at maintaining cashflow to suppliers, while also ensuring the public sector is able to access goods and services quickly.
What has been introduced with this PPN? Procurement Cards are being highlighted as the preferred method for purchasing goods and services, and the key points from this document are:
Single transaction limit increased to £20,000 for key card holders
Monthly limit on procurement card spend set to £100,000
Monthly procurement card spend in excess of £100,000 is permissible to meet business needs.
Opening up of more purchase categories providing access to a greater range of goods and services.
Above points apply to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies.
Effective immediately as of 6 April 2020
What are procurement cards? Procurement Cards are essentially charge cards used to purchase goods and services directly. These cards allow for instant payment and avoid the need to go through any forms of purchasing processes.
What is the benefit of using Procurement Cards? The instant transactions are the major benefit to suppliers, receiving prompt will help them to protect their business, their employees and their supply chains.
By making Procurement cards the preferred payment method and increasing their spending limits, the Government is helping contracting authorities follow the instructions set out in previous PPN: Supplier relief due to COVID-19 – which focuses on prompt payment to support businesses and protect jobs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Businesses of all sizes are feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, and on March 20th the Cabinet Office issued reassurance to suppliers with the Procurement Policy Note: Supplier relief due to COVID-19. The document serves as guidance for public sector bodies on protecting suppliers, their workforce and supply chains, helping to ensure service continuity now and into the future.
The policy changes have been put in place with immediate effect until 30 June 2020, and the key actions are:
Urgent review of contract portfolio and inform suppliers who they believe are at risk that they will continue to be paid as normal (even if service delivery is disrupted or temporarily suspended) until at least the end of June.
Put in place the most appropriate payment measures to support supplier cash flow; this might include a range of approaches such as forward ordering, payment in advance/prepayment, interim payments and payment on order (not receipt).
If the contract involves payment by results then payment should be on the basis of previous invoices, for example the average monthly payment over the previous three months.
Ensure invoices submitted by suppliers are paid immediately on receipt (reconciliation can take place in slower time) in order to maintain cash flow in the supply chain and protect jobs.
To qualify, suppliers should agree to act on an open book basis and make cost data available to the contracting authority during this period. They should continue to pay employees and flow down funding to their subcontractors.
As a supplier, the final point highlights that during this period, you will need to work collaboratively and ensure there is full transparency and operate on an ‘open book’ basis. This means you should share data if requested, to demonstrate the payments you receive have been used in the manner intended.
The PPN provides full details of how public sector bodies are to respond to issues that will affect contract delivery and are a direct result of COVID-19.
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.
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
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.
While catching up with our business development team, it was interesting to hear that a small number of people are choosing to postpone searching for contracts until after this pandemic. When I asked Euan Henderson, Assistant Sales Manager, what his thoughts were on this, his response was as follows:
“I talk to businesses looking for our support in finding them Public Sector contracts on a daily basis. In the last few days I’ve spoken to a handful who think they can cut costs and pick up business when things are ‘back to normal’.
“This is a bad decision.
“If you are waiting until after the pandemic to start bidding on tenders, think differently. The public sector will always need suppliers, so now is the time to ensure you are building a pipeline of bids and working to secure business for the future.
“Thinking about searching for tenders yourself? Save your resources! Tenders are published on over 500 portals, meaning that without Tenders Direct, you would have to spend a LOT of time searching different sites and sifting through notices to find anything suitable.
“Most of the businesses I’ve been speaking to are trying to be as proactive as possible, and if they are your competitors, then they are going to have plenty of business lined up over the next few months.”
It really is important to be aware of what opportunities are out there, and that you are working towards securing business for the future. If you are proactively seeking opportunities, you may be interested in our Advanced Tender Alerts.
We have over 5 years’ worth of historical tender information to tap into, and with our advance alerts, we can let you know when contracts are due for renewal – giving you a head start of up to 6 months.
Watch our video to find out more, or get in touch to discuss further.
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.