Public procurement reform update – where are we now?


21 October 2021

It will be a year this December since we wrote about the Government’s proposed reforms to public procurement in our article Transforming public procurement: the Green Paper. That Green Paper notably stated that the end of the Brexit transition period “provides an historic opportunity to overhaul our outdated public procurement regime”.

After the Green Paper was published in December 2020, there followed a consultation period which ended on 10th March 2021. Later, in June 2021, the Government announced its National Procurement Policy Strategy (NPPS) and with it PPN 05/21 (PPN) which set out guidance on the NPPS. This took forward the Government’s intention to reform the UK’s procurement regime and to leverage public procurement to support both national and local priority outcomes for the benefit of the public. You can read more about the NPPS, and the national strategic priorities for public procurement that contracting authorities must have regard to when conducting procurements, in our article.

So where are we now? The latest Cabinet Office update circulated recently says that they have been working through detailed feedback received from over 600 respondents to the Green Paper consultation. It seems as though the main reforms and proposed new principles for public procurement, as well as the simplification and consolidation of the current sets of procedures and regulations is supported, showing a recognition that a more flexible approach to public procurement could be of benefit.

The stated focus is now to turn the policy intentions into legislation, although understandably, there is no specific timeframe given for this and they say that the Procurement Bill (the Bill) will be introduced when Parliamentary time allows. Thereafter it could be several months before the Bill becomes legislation and then secondary legislation will need to be made. The Cabinet Office say, realistically, the new regime would not come into force until 2023, and that people will be given plenty of notice, as well as guidance and support.

On that note, the Cabinet Office reiterates that it is putting together a learning and development support offer, which will be comprised of formal learning, and the sharing of ideas and experience through “communities of practice”. This sounds more positive than when originally mentioned in the Green Paper, when it was said that any training and guidance would be “subject to future funding decisions”.

We now look forward to seeing the summary of the Green Paper consultation feedback results and the Government’s intentions on public procurement reform, which the Cabinet Office says will be published in a matter of weeks.

If you would like to know more about how the Procurement Bill could affect you and your business, please contact Siobhan Collis or another member of the Public Sector Team.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at October 2021.

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