A report published today (11 July 2018) found there is huge potential for North East companies to unlock multi-million pound opportunities through working with public sector procurers.
Produced by North East England Chamber of Commerce with support from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) the report, Procurement: Challenges and Opportunities, Driving Engagement and Growth in a Post Brexit World, revealed SMEs are often unable to bid for work as contracts are too large for them to handle. The report recommends major procurement organisations such as local authorities and the NHS break down tenders where possible to enable smaller businesses to put forward a bid.
Rachel Anderson, Chamber head of policy and representation said: “The economic climate post Brexit has the potential to be very different and we need to take full advantage of the opportunity to look again at how the procurement process can help drive innovation and growth without undue constraints being placed on buyers or suppliers. We don’t have many major companies capable of delivering multi-million pound tenders in our region but we have many fantastic businesses who would be able to do a great job and grow their businesses substantially with the right opportunities to do so.”
Kathrine Eddon, Head of Procurement at Womble Bond Dickinson commented: "I am delighted WBD have been able to support the North East England Chamber of Commerce in this important project. During the roundtable discussions with procurers and suppliers the challenges and positives of procurement law were clearly identified. One key recurring theme was that there is much scope for the issues identified by both suppliers and procurers to be addressed without a need to change the current legislation. The more immediate challenge is perhaps ensuring the examples of good practice that were mentioned, are shared and built upon. We hope the recommendations in this report can go some way in paving the way for the continued development of best practice in the North East and beyond."
The report sets out the need for project briefs to be sufficiently specific to enable companies, of all sizes, to easily analyse if the contract is right for them and if it is financially worth them investing the time in a bid.
Information for the report was gathered from both major procurement bodies and Chamber members at a series of roundtable discussions. Other issues and solutions which were identified by those who took part in the discussions included a short-list being useful for companies to know their chance of winning the work at an early stage, greater standardisation in terms of procurement documents and ensuring that meaningful feedback on unsuccessful bids is given.
Companies also said they would find it useful if buyers felt more confident in making greater use of the preliminary market consultations provisions in the procurement rules to build up one to one relationships with them, so there could be discussions on innovative solutions which would help to inform the buyer's market knowledge of what potential solutions were available to them, before going out to tender.
A further suggestion was a plain English summary of the tender requirements with bullet points to be included on all tenders so any business could assess easily whether it is a realistic opportunity for them to tender for.
The full findings will be discussed at the launch by regional leaders from the public and private sector after which it will be given to all regional MPs and the Department for Communities and Local Government.