The Procurement Bill: a guide for micro, SME and VCSE businesses

by Gillian Askew

January 23rd, 2023


You may or may not have missed it, while Westminster continues to battle for calm after a considerable period of uncertainty, but the Procurement Bill is currently making its way through Parliament and it signifies exciting changes for suppliers and public sector procurement teams. 

Following our exit from the EU, the Bill sets out a new legal framework for procurement in the UK – its focus being greater flexibility for how the public sector spends its money and how organisations like those Go4Growth supports can bid for that money. 

In short, it aims to make it easier for businesses – especially micro, SMEs and VCSEs to enter public sector supply chains – and we welcome a stipulation that contracting authorities must take into account the particular barriers facing these businesses and take steps to overcome them. Suppliers will also be glad to hear that the proposed changes also include establishing a new digital infrastructure to resolve some of the frustrations we have heard so much about when talking with you.

Settled in? Let’s run through the Procurement Bill and its key benefits:

Making pipelines visible

The Procurement Bill will require large contracting authorities to publish a pipeline notice forward look for 18 months for opportunities over £2m. Pipelines (and the visibility they give suppliers) is also part of the National Procurement Policy statement (NPPS) so many contracting authorities are already working on this looking at opportunities well below the £2m level also.  

By mandating that contracting authorities need to publish their procurement pipelines in advance means that micro, SMEs and VCSEs can anticipate when and where opportunities are coming from so that you can be proactive in your research, preparation and writing of bids that really pin down what the buyer is looking for.

You’ll be able to search by region and category, allowing you to really drill-down to the opportunities most relevant to you.

A new centralised platform

We often hear about the difficulties you face when trying to manage multiple platforms and keep an eye on and bid for multiple opportunities. A new platform will be developed where suppliers can register their details and upload their information just once – and this platform can then be integrated with individual procurement systems. Invitations to tender will be published here with all the key information you need to be able to prepare for a bid and you’ll be able to see all the opportunities in one place. See the current Contracts Finder and view our video tutorial here.

Importantly, smaller suppliers are able to provide alternative evidence where the audited accounts are not available and will only be required to put insurance cover in place when a contract is awarded to you, rather than incurring costs straight away.  

Changes to the procurement framework

The new competitive flexible procedure sets out that contracting authorities will be largely free to establish their processes however they see fit - within the remits of the new Bill. However, certain limits must be met that mean contracting authorities will, for example, need to specifically consider micro, SMEs and VCSEs and:

  • whether the requirements they are asking for are proportionate to the contract

  • whether the bidding times are realistic, including for businesses that do not have dedicated bidding teams

  • whether there is a diverse representation of businesses in pre‑market engagement to make sure a contracting authority is reaching a wide range of suppliers.

By reducing the most complicated and bureaucratic processes – your main headaches - the Bill will be helpful not only to you but also to the public sector who can better benefit from the innovation and agility that micro, SMEs and VCSEs can offer. And, the Bill proposes that suppliers who are not successful in their bids will receive a summary report which will indicate how your bid compared to the winner’s – allowing you to learn and improve on future bids.

What the future looks like

The Bill still has a way to go, but the key takeaway is that the benefits for micro businesses, SMEs and VCSEs seems significant: complex red tape areas are being removed or simplified, engagement between suppliers and contracting authorities are being enabled and better supported, the digital infrastructure is being vastly improved and even the payment terms after the fact of an award are being strengthened to better support smaller businesses. 

This chain of events can only ever be beneficial to both the supplier and procurement landscape in the UK and at Go4Growth we’re excited to work with you to navigate these changes and opportunities.

Want to find out how we can help you? Get in contact.

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