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Last edited 01 Apr 2021
Transforming Public Procurement Green Paper
The Government has set out plans to transform public procurement by delivering more value for money and making it easier for smaller businesses, charities and social enterprises to win government contracts.
On 2 December 2020, the UK deposited its Instrument of Accession to join the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Government Procurement, defining its position as an independent member once it leaves the EU. On 15 December 2020, the Green Paper Transforming Public Procurement was presented to Parliament by the Cabinet Office and Lord Agnew, the Minister of State for Efficiency and Transformation. The Green Paper proposes measures that will incorporate procurement policy changes in the UK once the Brexit period concludes and the UK’s procurement standing changes.
At the core of the plan is the goal of allowing more flexibility for buyers, enabling the Government to save taxpayer funds through more strategic purchasing practices. It is intended to promote increased competition through simpler procurement procedures that will allow the Government to consider wider social value when selecting suppliers.
Cabinet Office Minister Lord Agnew, said: “The measures will transform the current outdated system with new rules, providing flexibility to the public sector and less burden on business. These long standing plans have been developed with international procurement specialists and will help unleash innovation across the country and provide a fairer system for small businesses.”
 Changes to trading rules
The Green Paper also proposes changes that will permit the public sector to buy British products and services for contracts not subject to international trade rules. This will allow competition for government contracts under £4.7million for public works and £122k for goods and services to be limited to small businesses, voluntary, community and social enterprises, or to a certain geographical area.
This change is intended to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by opening up opportunities and making it easier for them to win contracts. This, it is suggested will help drive local growth, promote innovation, support local recruitment and level up communities across the UK.
Other proposed changes to the rules include:
- Removing more than 300 regulations to create a single uniform rulebook.
- Overhauling certain procedures.
- Allowing buyers to include wider social benefits, such as economic, social and environmental factors, when assessing who to award a contract to while still considering value for money.
- Giving buyers the power to take account of a bidder’s past performance, allowing them to exclude suppliers who have failed to deliver in the past.
- Creating a new unit to oversee public procurement with powers to improve commercial skills of public sector contractors.
- Providing a single digital platform for registering contracts and improving transparency for businesses.
Gavin Hayman, Executive Director of the Open Contracting Partnership said: “This is a unique opportunity to make sure public money is spent wisely. These proposals will digitise and transform how contracts are planned, awarded and delivered in the UK with open data and public transparency at their heart.”
 The focus on SMEs
While suppliers of all sizes may benefit from the changes, SMEs that sometimes feel put off by long, bureaucratic and costly processes should benefit in particular. One tangible example of this is providing registration information on a ‘tell us once’ basis, which will help small firms by saving them time and resources.
Elizabeth Vega, Group Chief Executive of Informed Solutions and member of Cabinet Office’s Procurement Transformation and Advisory Panel said: “I have experienced first-hand how difficult it can be for SMEs bidding for public sector contracts, whether it’s due to closed framework agreements locking them out of future opportunities, or complex procedures making it expensive to bid or difficult to offer innovative solutions. These reforms will result in more SMEs being able to access public sector contracts, and ultimately put in place a procurement framework that delivers better value for taxpayers and greater benefits for society.”
Awarding authorities will be encouraged to consider how public contracts can support social or environmental issues or promote local communities, small businesses and charities. The rules will also provide more flexibility to allow contractors to take account of wider government priorities and support work to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Government Construction Strategy.
- Green paper.
- Managing the procurement process.
- Procurement route.
- Public contract.
- Public procurement.
- Public project definition.
- Public sector.
- Small and medium-sized enterprises SME.
- Social enterprise.
- The SME's updated guide to Brexit.
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