2 November 2023 | Our Work

View from the top: Procurement Act receives Royal Assent, now what?

In not much of a fanfare (but trust me it will be have a big impact in our sector), the long-awaited Procurement Act 2023 (“the Act”) received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023. A long journey with two years of consultation and policy development post Brexit.

This is part of the transition journey where the UK adopts its own bespoke set of rules to govern public procurement from October 2024.

As a somewhat avid reader of the political debates in House of Commons and the Lords, the bill certainly had it’s fair share of hot debate, to-ing and fro-ing and did have some rather colourful exchanges. One of the many hotly debated areas being SMEs and increasing the opportunities for them. The Act is almost a complete re-write of the current UK procurement rules, and Procurement teams in councils will definitely welcome the six-month transition period!

There is far too much detail to cover in this “View from the Top”, but with our relationship with Crown Commercial Services, the DfT supported LCRIG Innovation Procurement System will become increasingly important and we are already discussing more activity to support councils and the supply chain including upcoming work with National Highways.

Some important changes, space limited but I’m pleased to see, are:

  • The introduction of the competitive flexible procedure, which gives councils flexibility to shape their procurements in a way that allows them to consider the nature, complexity and cost of each contract they wish to procure.
  • Councils will be able consider the “most advantageous tender” when assessing the “best tender”, which should allow councils to consider much more beyond price and I personally think will make things easier for the consideration of decarbonisation.
  • And importantly when it comes to Innovation there are planned flexibilities about the use of both dynamic purchasing systems and some changes to time period for open frameworks (albeit with competition breaks built in).

So, October 2024 will signal hopefully a paradigm (and legislative) shift in procurement that is more flexible whilst retaining fairness and transparency. As I’ve mentioned earlier, there will be a six months’ notice before the “go-live” date. For the time being, two consultations on the secondary legislation is awaited. But after this, once laid early in 2024, some parts of the Act and the wider regime will start to come into place.

Source: UK Parliament