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Update on Procurement Bill
04 April 2023

NHS Procurement in Partnership (NHS PiP) has been keeping a close eye on the Procurement Bill's progress through Parliament. Rules on public sector procurement are still being decided but could be approved as early as this spring. However, the new regulations may not come into effect until spring 2024.

The government describes the new rules as simpler and more flexible, and says they will open up more public sector procurement for small businesses (SMEs) and voluntary and community groups. 

The rules being drawn up under the bill are designed to make it easier for SMEs to win services and works that the public sector buys. For example, they will be able to see upcoming work more easily, giving them more time to prepare a bid. A new central platform will show future work in each area, so that companies will be able to find work in their region. There will also be prompter payments, so that businesses throughout the supply chain will be paid within 30 days. 

Buyers will be able to more easily exclude suppliers who may have previously underperformed as well as those involved in modern slavery. 

Value for money will remain paramount under the new rules, however, they will also encourage buyers to take into account other relevant wider social and environmental considerations. 

It is anticipated that buyers will only have to give their core credentials once on a single platform – helping organisations of all sizes to find information in one place and give greater opportunity for new suppliers to bid for and win public sector contracts.  

The bill also introduces new rules to help the public sector procure in emergency situations, such as during health pandemics, ensuring that contracting authorities can act quickly and transparently to buy vital goods by allowing competitive buying in a shorter timeframe. 

The bill is currently completing its passage through Parliament and, following Royal Assent, there will then need to be secondary legislation made to bring some elements of the bill and the wider regime into effect. There will also be a public consultation on the draft regulations. 

There will be six months’ notice before the new legislation goes live. The existing legislation will apply until the new regime goes live and will continue to apply to procurements that began under the current rules. The Government currently estimates that the new rules will come into effect in spring 2024 at the earliest. Guidance will be provided to cover the transition period from the current regulations to the new act. 

You can find out more about the Procurement Bill on the government’s Procurement Bill webpage.

(This content was provided by our NHS PiP partners at NOE CPC.)