UK firming up Procurement Bill “to level playing field”


Procurement professionals in the UK are watching the evolution of a new Bill which the Government claims will level the playing field for small and medium enterprises. 

The bill has become a step closer to becoming law this week (as at 30 May 2022).

The UK Government claims the new Procurement Bill will focus on making more government contracts open to small businesses, ousting 350 EU laws with a simple and flexible system. 

It is expected to become law next year and figures show public sector spending with small businesses “rose to a record £19.3 billion in 2021/22”, the UK Government says. 

Earlier this month, the UK Government also introduced another new procurement-related Bill (The Trade Australia and New Zealand Bill) to enable implementation of Australia and New Zealand trade deals. It brought about the first independently negotiated Free Trade Agreements between the three nations in more than 50 years.

It permits businesses in the three nations to grow and take advantage of greater access into each market and tariff removals. 

The UK’s own Procurement Bill will slash costs and make it easier for businesses bidding for contracts, particularly smaller companies with less experience of procurement processes, the UK Government says. 

“This will result in more SMEs benefiting from contracts for everything from catering for public buildings to digital services and infrastructure projects, a statement said. 

The counterpart governments of Australian and New Zealand are also looking to shake-up their procurement approaches. 

In Australia, newly elected Labor is planning to unleash a local spending and procurement program worth $15 billion under its  Made in Australia Policy. Read about what’s in ambitious Australian procurement plan.

The Albanese Labor Government plans to improve the way Australian Government contracts work, ensuring more opportunities are available to Australian businesses and their employees.

This falls under the 10-point Buy Australia Plan, which includes a policy to “level the playing field by bringing in a Fair Go Procurement Framework requiring those that gain government contracts to pay their fair share of tax.”

In New Zealand, the Government has been working on a Procurement 2.0 approach to meet future economic, social and environmental challenges. It covers three strategic areas of focus: data and transparency, working together as one and unlocking value.

The UK Government says its Procurement Bill 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.

A single digital platform to hold supplier’s credentials is also planned and publicly available pipelines of procurement opportunities will be available.

 “These will 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,” the statement said. 

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