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Government to rip up procurement rulebook for councils

Ministers have announced plans designed to help public sector organisations buy more services from social enterprises and local businesses.

The Cabinet Office has published details of a new green paper, which it claims will simplify procurement procedures for councils and NHS trusts.

The paper proposes slashing more than 350 regulations governing public procurement and integrating the current regulations into a single, uniform framework.

According to the government, the changes will allow councils to include wider social benefits of the supplier, such as economic, social and environmental factors, when assessing who to award a contract to, while also still considering value for money.

The government will also allow the public sector to ‘buy British’ for contracts not subject to international trade rules, by allowing competitions for government contracts under £4.7m 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.

‘The measures outlined today will transform the current outdated system with new rules, providing flexibility to the public sector and less burden on business,’ said Cabinet Office minister, Lord Agnew.

‘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.’

The chief executive of Informed Solutions and member of the Cabinet Office’s procurement transformation and advisory panel, Elizabeth Vega, added: ‘I have experienced first-hand how difficult it can be under current procurement rules for SMEs bidding for public sector contracts, whether because of closed framework agreements locking them out of future opportunities, or complex procedures making it expensive to bid or difficult to offer innovative solutions.

‘As a long-time champion for SMEs, these reforms will result in more SMEs being able to access public sector contracts, and ultimately put in place a new procurement framework that delivers better value for taxpayers and greater benefits for society.’

Photo Credit – PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)

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