The Procurement Bill, which is currently in the Second Reading stage in the Lords, is expected to become law next year. It promises to provide SMEs will better access to Government contracts and spread economic growth across the UK.
The Bill intends to replace the 350 overly complicated, bureaucratic EU-era procurement rules with a much simpler, more flexible system. Costs to businesses will be slashed and will also allow those less experienced with procurement processes – namely SMEs – to bid for contracts more easily.
In news which will hearten member companies who have developed innovative products, the Bill will enable public sector buyers to test innovative products and prototypes before making a contract decision. New digital infrastructure will also make it easier and cheaper for organisations of all sizes to bid for public contracts, with a single digital platform that will hold all of a supplier’s credentials.
Publishing pipelines of procurement opportunities will also allow small companies to make more competitive bids, including forming consortia, while a commitment to prompt payments for a wider range of contracts will level the playing field for SMEs and help reduce the reliance on the same group of large companies.
As previously mentioned, the reforms are expected to accelerate Government spending with SMEs, with new figures revealing increases for the fourth consecutive year to a record £19.3 billion in 2020/21. Spending through SMEs grew by £3.7 billion on the previous year, with £10.2 billion of the total spent with SMEs directly and a further £9.1 billion through supply chains.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay said, “We are introducing reforms through our Procurement Bill that will do-away with bureaucratic rules that are both complicated and time-consuming for firms to navigate. Our departure from the European Union means we are free to streamline these rules on who wins taxpayer contracts.
“This will give small businesses a better chance of landing public sector contracts and allow the Government wider access to the first-class skills, innovation and ideas that many agile, creative smaller firms offer. In turn this will allow us to improve the services we provide to the public”.