We recently looked at some of the notable changes for SMEs under the Procurement Bill (Bill) in part 1 of our mini-series. In part 2 below, we continue our discussion focusing on three additional provisions of the Bill including the new central platform for registration, prompt payment provisions and the shift towards social and environmental considerations when choosing a supplier.
One system for registration
A key challenge for SMEs under current legislation is the multiple platforms upon which they may be required to register. Each system requires similar information but in completing them, SMEs waste time and resources. A new single web system for registration will allow suppliers to provide their core credentials once, which will be kept in an evidence locker and subsequently filtered into individual procurement systems. This will make it clear for SMEs where sign-up will be required and simplify the process of updating information if required.
The Bill requires 30-day payment terms to apply through public sector supply chains, irrespective of whether they are written into the contract. The inclusion of this requirement in the Bill in conjunction with the other provisions discussed continues to protect and benefit SMEs who may be more vulnerable if there are payment delays.
Social and Environmental Factors
The Bill intends to shift the focus of contracting authorities beyond costs and consider the wider social and environmental factors a supplier may provide. As such, the Bill has changed the terminology from awarding the contract to the “most economically advantageous tender” to “most advantageous tender”. For a detailed consideration of this change, please read our recent blog here.
This reflects the government’s aim to spread opportunity more locally and their goals to prioritise social values, climate change, local economic growth and local employment. Value for money will remain a paramount consideration for contracting authorities, but the new rules will also encourage contracting authorities to consider other relevant wider social and environmental factors.
In conclusion, the Bill will undoubtedly widen opportunities for SMEs. Many of the barriers faced by SMEs in securing a win under the PCR 2015 rules will be reduced and we anticipate SMEs will welcome the change. Further developments on the Bill can be found in our dedicated Procurement Reform Hub