Procurement Bill: A Change in Direction

Wednesday 18th May 2022

Announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech, the first reading of the new Procurement Bill has taken place in the House of Lords.

What does the new Procurement Bill include?

The Green Paper preceding the Bill advised that the proposed changes are:

  • Intended to shape the future of public procurement
  • Speed up and simplify our procurement processes
  • Place value for money at their heart
  • Unleash opportunities for small businesses, charities and social enterprises to innovate in public service delivery

With this in mind, one important change to the Procurement Bill, leading to a more inclusive tendering process, is reducing the ‘direct cost’ consideration seen previously. Instead, there’s an obvious shift toward allowing public sector bodies to consider other unique qualities of the tender such as wider economic, social, and environmental outcomes of procurement.

The Bill may be expanding upon the existing moral compass of public bodies and private companies by raising the standards of suppliers, considering their past performance and penalising those demonstrating less attractive qualities. A tender’s involvement in fraud, bribery or tax offences for example would be a key consideration throughout the procurement process. By raising the standards of suppliers, those seen as more deserving of the contract, should (in theory) stand a better chance of winning it.

When are we likely to see this Bill become an Act?

The Procurement Bill is now at the 2nd reading stage in the House of Lords. There is a long way to go before it receives Royal Assent and no doubt changes will be made along the way. However, when the Bill is ready, it could be implemented quickly. Companies should be aware of the proposed changes and should start to think about the implications for their business now.

If you’d like more information on this or any other commercial queries, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.