May 16th, 2024 by James Goudie KC

The Cabinet Office has issued and presented to Parliament at National Procurement Statement (the NPPS), setting out “the strategic priorities for public procurement and how contracting authorities can support their delivery”.  It is due to come into effect on 28 October 2024.  That will be alongside the introduction of the Procurement Act 2023.  The NPPS identifies national priorities to which contracting authorities should have regard in exercising their functions relating to procurement.  These relate to value for money, social value, SMEs, commercial and procurement delivery, and skills and capability for procurement.

Value for money must be placed at the forefront of all procurement activities: para 8.

As regards Social Value the NPPS states:-

“10.     All contracting authorities should have regard to the following outcomes in their procurement activities, alongside any additional local priorities, where it is relevant to the subject matter of the contract and proportionate to do so:

  • Creating resilient businesses and opportunities for quality employment and skills development.
  • Improving innovation, supply chain resilience and security of supply.
  • Tackling climate change and reducing waste.
  1. There are a number of ways that contracting authorities can implement these outcomes, for example, changes to the way the procurement is structured or the process carried out, the specification of the goods, services or works to be purchased, or the award criteria which will determine the most advantageous tender.
  2. Whilst it can be beneficial to consider such additional benefits, achieving them without overburdening suppliers is crucial. Contracting authorities should ensure that they do not place onerous requirements on suppliers, or use disproportionate clauses in tenders and contracts.  For example, contracting authorities should not ‘gold-plate’ the Equality Act 2010 by setting unnecessary diversity reporting or ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ requirements for the private and voluntary sectors.”

As regards SMEs, the NPPS states:-

“13.     Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy. It is vital contracting authorities support businesses to achieve sustainable growth and open up public procurement opportunities to more SMEs, voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) creating a thriving, competitive marketplace.  SMEs not only play a key role in communities by providing a local service and employment but can also offer innovative solutions to public service delivery.

14.       Contracting authorities should ensure that they level the playing field for SMEs, VCSEs and start-ups to compete in public procurement by reducing and removing barriers in the procurement process.”

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