The Procurement Bill – Revolutionising public procurement processes

The Procurement Bill (the Bill) contains some of the most significant and wide-ranging changes to the UK's procurement regime in decades. The Bill intends to "shake up" the UK's "outdated procurement system" by repealing current EU-law based procurement regulations and introducing new procurement rules and procedures for central government departments, their arm's length bodies and the wider public sector.

The reforms proposed by the Government touch upon every stage of the lifecycle of a public procurement contract. We'll be exploring these reforms in greater detail in a series of short articles – see below for more information on this.

One of the most significant changes to be introduced is the proposed consolidation of the different regulations into one, single regulatory framework. At present, there are four existing sets of regulations:

  • The Public Contracts Regulations 2015
  • The Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016
  • The Concession Contracts Regulations 2016
  • The Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011

By consolidating these regulations into a single regime, the Government aims to simplify procurement processes and make them more transparent and easier to navigate. This will be of particular relevance to SMEs who can struggle to navigate the procurement system and win contracts.

Objectives of the reforms

The core objective of the reforms is to deliver value for money whilst maximising public benefit.

The Bill will also require greater alignment on the part of contracting authorities with the National Procurement Policy Statement (NPPS) which aims to ensure that procurement decisions align with national strategic priorities which include tackling climate change and improving diversity of suppliers. This feels particularly apt, given the current economic climate, the UK’s international obligations in relation to climate goals and the fact that approximately a third of public money is spent on procurement processes, with gross spending on public sector procurement in 2021/22 at £379 billion across the UK.

Current status

At the time of writing, the Bill is still making its way through the House of Commons, having most recently completed its 3rd reading in the House of Lords in December 2022.

The Cabinet Office had previously indicated that the Bill would be finalised and receive Royal Assent in Spring 2023, with a 6-month period after that to allow for the publication of guidance and training of contracting authorities to take place. Given that it's now mid-May, it remains to be seen whether or not this timeframe is still achievable.

That said, we still expect the Bill to enter into force at some time in early 2024, although this will possibly be in successive phases. The Bill (once passed) will only apply to procurement processes by devolved authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whilst Scotland will continue to apply its own legal framework, the Bill does provide for arrangements which cover joint and cross-border procurement with Scottish contracting authorities. 

We understand how critical these changes are for both our bidder and contracting authority clients. To support you, we are publishing a series of articles that will cover some of the key changes proposed by the Bill, including:

  • Competitive procedures
  • KPIs and monitoring
  • Debarment
  • Challenges and remedies

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the impact the Bill may have on your business/team, our procurement experts are here to help.

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