16 Jun 2022

Transforming UK public procurement

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The Public Procurement Bill 2022 has a second reading in the House of Lords

Since Brexit, and the subsequent pandemic when the direct award of PPE contracts was in the spotlight, the question of how public procurement will be regulated in the UK has been a subject of some debate. In December 2020, the UK Government set out its direction of travel in a Green paper (see our previous articles on this and the resulting consultation Feb 21 and Dec 21 articles). This is now taking shape in legislation, with the Procurement Bill being announced in the Queen's Speech and following its second reading on 25 May. 

The Bill will replace the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, marking the biggest shift in UK public procurement regulation in years. And there is no doubt that the Bill encompasses lots of political touchpoints - and not just Brexit and the Covid legacy. The Cabinet Office's "Procurement Bill factsheet" highlights the potential for public procurement reforms to help deliver the "levelling up" agenda through requiring public sector buyers to "take account of national strategic priorities such as job creation potential, improving supplier resilience and tackling climate change" while value for money will still be the highest priority. So, it seems that an awful lot is resting on this piece of draft legislation!

Of course, the Bill may be subject to amendment as it works its way through Parliament, but we take a look now at some of the main ways this new regime will differ to the current approach and what this means for those involved in procuring public contracts or indeed bidding for them.

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