On 11 May 2022, the Procurement Bill 2022 was introduced to parliament. The Bill sets out the government’s vision for a faster, fairer and more effective public procurement regime. This is part of a proposed post-Brexit reform of how the public sector undertakes its procurement activities. As well as central government, it will also affect local authorities, public educational institutions and similarly constituted organisations that are subject to public sector constraints on how they go about their business.
The new public procurement regime, when enacted, will revoke and replace the current group of public procurement regulations. This includes the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016.
The Bill will consolidate the procedures to be followed when the public sector goes about procuring contracts for works, services and supplies. It also develops proposals from a government Green Paper put in out 2021. These include:
- New exclusion rules to tackle unacceptable behaviour and poor performance of contractors and suppliers.
- Requirements for the public sector to have regard for government strategic priorities for procurement as set out in its National Procurement Policy Statement.
- Putting the objectives of public procurement on a statutory basis, including delivering value for money, maximising public benefit, treating suppliers equally and without discrimination, and acting with integrity.
- Introducing new arrangements enabling contracting authorities to “buy at pace” in order to protect life or health, public order or safety.
The Bill is 122 pages long and has a number of stages to work though in Parliament before it reaches the statute books. Current forecasts are that we will not see a new Act until 2023. Even then the government intends to allow a six-month transition period to allow the public sector and suppliers to prepare.
The Cabinet Office intends to roll out a learning and development programme across the public sector on the new regime. We will continue to track the development of the Bill and report on its progress over the rest of 2022, but change is here for all those to which the new regime will apply to.