UK Procurement Bill receives Royal Assent

The new UK Procurement Bill has received Royal Assent which opens the way for significant change for procurement in the public sector

The main focus of the Bill is to make it easier to do business with the public sector. This includes making public procurement simpler and more transparent as well as removing barriers to new entrants, such as; small businesses, voluntary, community, faith and social enterprises. Significantly, there is greater emphasis on procurement as an enabler to deliver wider benefits for the public good. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the new Bill replaces and improves on existing legislation while remaining compliant with international obligations. 

The bill includes stepped-up measures to protect national security in government contracts. These measures are part of the proposed Procurement Bill, which aims to streamline processes, support small businesses, and enhance national security.

Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Jeremy Quin said:  “Protecting the nation’s security has always been the government’s number one job.  These new measures will protect our sensitive sectors from companies which could threaten national security and are a firm deterrence to hostile actors who wish to do Britain harm.  This builds on the robust rules within the Procurement Bill to hold suppliers to account and ensure that the taxpayer is protected.”


The Rt Hon Jeremy Quin MP, Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office (Credit: GOV.UK)

What does Royal Assent mean?

Once a bill has completed all the parliamentary stages in both Houses in the UK, it is then ready to receive royal assent. This is when the King formally agrees to make the bill into an Act of Parliament and so become law.  The bill is expected to be enacted no later than October 2024.

What does this mean for Social Value?
 

Guy Battle, CEO, Social Value Portal and Co-Chair (Public Sector Chapter) of The Sustainable Procurement Pledge explains; “Social Value has been firmly established in public sector procurement since the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force. 

“In future, the big difference for Social Value will lie with the legal requirement for public sector buyers to shift from awarding contracts based on M.E.A.T (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) to M.A.T. (Most Advantageous Tender). This means considering the wider benefits for the community in which the contract will be delivered, such as local employment opportunities, carbon emissions reduction or using a local supply chain - all of which fall under the umbrella of Social Value.

“Value for money will remain a high priority but national strategic priorities such as job creation, improving supplier resilience, reducing emissions and driving innovation will also become significant determining factors. 

“Building such commercial partnerships based on a wider understanding of value has the potential to deliver a step change that will benefit people, communities and the economy.”

Guy Battle CEO Social Value Portal

Increased transparency and reporting obligations

Greater transparency and accountability in public procurement spend decisions is built into the Bill, with obligations to publish information via transparency notices at various stages and make it available to the public. This will provide insights for citizens into how their money, as tax-payers, is spent, what for and who with.

This will place a greater emphasis on the need to continually track, measure and report the progress and outcomes to track alignment with the initial contract requirement.

Guy Battle continues; “Demand for third party data validation and reporting will increase under the new Bill, with measurement frameworks such as the LGA endorsed Social Value TOM System becoming more heavily relied on by both suppliers and buyers. 

“As well as making the procurement process clearer and easier for buyers and bidders, we must all remember that behind every £1 of public money spent, there is a person, a life and a community that will stand to benefit.

“The UK has pioneered Social Value over the past decade and the rest of the world will be watching as the new Procurement Bill comes into force next year.”

Read more on how to get ready for the UK Procurement Bill 



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