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Transforming Public Procurement

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2020

The UK spends around £290 billion per year on public procurement. Leaving the EU offers us a huge opportunity to reform how this money is spent so that it better meets the needs of this country. We can create a new, simpler procurement regime that will reduce costs for business and the public sector by reducing bureaucracy and improving commercial outcomes. Such a large amount of Government spending must be leveraged to play its part in the UK’s economic recovery and unleash opportunities for small businesses to innovate in public service delivery.

The UK remains open for business and committed to our international obligations. Being a member of the WTO Government procurement agreement gives British businesses access to £1.3 trillion in public procurement opportunities overseas. The terms of that trade agreement mean we cannot simply discriminate against suppliers from other GPA countries. Neither would we wish to discriminate against overseas suppliers that deliver inward investment and better value for UK taxpayers.

In support of this, I am launching a public consultation by a Green Paper on “Transforming Public Procurement”. The consultation will be open until March 2021.

In developing the Green Paper proposals, officials in the Government Commercial Function engaged with over 500 stakeholders and organisations through many hundreds of hours of discussions and workshops. Stakeholders included those from central and local government, the devolved Administrations, education, and health as well as start-ups, small, medium and large businesses, the voluntary and charity sectors, academics, international experts and procurement lawyers.

Our proposals are wide-ranging and include:

reducing the overall volume of legislation by harmonising the different regulatory schemes for the public sector, utilities and concessions contracts;

overhauling the current seven complex and inflexible procurement procedures and replacing them with three simple, modern procedures;

increasing the scope to take account of societal benefits when awarding contracts;

making procurement more transparent through greater use of open contracting and enabling a more efficient “tell us once” register of supplier data;

making it mandatory to publish a notice when a decision is made to use the limited tendering procedure;

providing more scope to exclude suppliers in certain circumstances, such as for poor past performance and corruption-related matters; and

reforming the remedies system, through making the court review process faster and less costly, capping damages, and further investigating the feasibility of tribunals.

The consultation published today gives everyone an opportunity to help shape public procurement for the future and I wish to encourage all involved in public procurement to have their say. This includes those small and medium-sized enterprises and voluntary, community and social enterprises who feel the existing EU rules hinder their participation in the market.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.