The Procurement Bill 2023, a government bill to reform public procurement, has received Royal Assent, completing the bill’s journey through parliament. The bill, which first entered the House of Lords in May 2022, received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023. Before it can become law, a bill must complete several parliamentary stages in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Royal Assent, in which the king formally agrees to make the bill law, is the final stage in the process. This makes the Procurement Bill 2023 now the Procurement Act 2023.
The Procurement Act 2023, is a major change for organisations within the public, utility, defence and security sectors on how they procure the third party works, goods and services they need to deliver for the UK public.
A bill to reform public procurement
Following the UK’s exit from the European Union (EU), the Government wished to change procurement rules based on EU law and make public procurement simpler, more efficient and more transparent. The Procurement Act 2023 will achieve this by replacing several procurement regulations — namely, Public Contracts Regulations 2015, Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, Concessions Contracts Regulations 2016, Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011— with a single regulatory framework that intends to reduce bureaucracy, simplify procurement and make it fairer, more open and more competitive.
Under the Act, there will be:
- Fewer procedures.
- Contracts are awarded on a Most Advantageous Tender rather than Most Economically Advantageous Tender – this means in theory that cost evaluation can play a much smaller part in tender evaluations and there can be a greater focus to maximise public benefit.
- Increased Transparency and Central Platform. Suppliers for public sector contracts will only have to enter their core credentials in one place. They’ll also be able to find information such as procurement pipelines and contract registers. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are especially likely to benefit from this.
The new regulations will empower procurement professionals to use their skills and move away from frustrations they’ve experienced in the past. For example, a public sector organisation that hasn’t been able to negotiate with suppliers the way it has wished to or design procurement processes that suit suppliers and its own business, will now find that the competitive flexible procedure now allows this autonomy.
Coming into force in October 2024
The bill may have received Royal Assent, but the Act won’t come into force until October 2024. Secondary legislation necessary to implement certain provisions in the Act will also come into force in October 2024.
What to start considering
- Consider the ways of working that you currently operate. The new regulations give you an opportunity to refresh what and how the services are delivered.
- Do you have the right levels of resources or correct skill sets?
- Plan ahead for training and upskilling that your procurement teams will need.
- Review the changes that are required for Procurement policies, procedures and systems to ensure they align with the new regulations.
We help lots of public sector organisations and private sector companies with their procurement. If you need support and aren’t sure how the reforms will affect you, contact us, and we can help you conduct your procurement in line with the reforms.