The Procurement Bill received Royal Assent on 26th October and is now known as the Procurement Act 2023 and is likely to come into force in 2024.
But what exactly is it? And what does it mean for NHS and public sector contract tenders?
What is the Procurement Act?
The new Procurement Act aims to reshape the way public sector contracts, including those in healthcare, are awarded. The overarching goal is to streamline processes, increase transparency, and promote fair competition among suppliers.
It is expected that further guidance will be released in March 2024, with a view to the Act ‘going live’ in October 2024.
What will change?
It is likely that any tender processes that have started before the Act comes into effect won’t be affected. Although, there is a question at the moment whether or not this includes Prior Information Notices (PINs) as these are information-only notices and are not actively inviting organisations to tender for a contract and, therefore, have not officially started the procurement process.
Between now and October 2024, legislation needs to be drafted and guidance will be published during the course of 2024. A six-month notice period will also implemented to allow suppliers, local authorities and other commissioners ample opportunity to prepare and embed any new or improved internal processes before the Act becomes law.
How will the Procurement Act change NHS tenders?
The Procurement Act 2023 will replace current procurement rules in relation to NHS and health and social care contracts.
According to the gov.uk website, ‘the new Procurement Act will benefit suppliers of all sizes, particularly start-ups, scale-ups and small businesses’ by creating ‘a central digital platform for suppliers to register and store their details so that they can be used for multiple bids, and see all opportunities in one place. Simplified bidding processes will make it easier to bid, negotiate and work in partnership with the public sector’.
It is also hoped that commercial frameworks will be more flexible and accessible and it will remove some of the bureaucratic barriers currently in place that prevents smaller businesses from competing for contracts. Prompt payment in public sector supply chains has also been cited as a benefit of the new system.
The Procurement Act 2023 is a significant change to the process of bidding for and winning public sector contracts and we will continue to educate ourselves as this moves forward.
In fact, on Wednesday 22nd November, we attended the Procurement Reform Supplier Conference in Manchester which covered the forthcoming changes at length with speakers from the Cabinet Office and PASS Procurement.
One key thing we took away from this conference that people need to prepare for these changes now or face not making supplier lists.
Other key, recurring themes were the importance of demonstrating sustainability and social value in tender bids. These are likely to be of great significance to commissioners going forward so we would urge potential suppliers to carefully think about what they are doing in these areas and how can they do more and demonstrate their activities in 2024 and beyond.
If you are looking to win more public sector contracts through tenders, or are worried about the impact The Procurement Act 2023 could have on your ability to win lucrative contracts in the future, contact us on 0330 1331 041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.