The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the PCR 2015) came into force in February 2015 and introduced key changes to the procurement landscape in the UK (excluding Scotland). The UK is the first European Member State to transpose EU Directive 2014/24/EU into national law.
There are two more directives to implement: one on utilities which is expected to be implemented in summer 2015 and the other on higher value concession contracts which must be transposed by April 2016.
The Cabinet Office has been keen to facilitate the early transposition of the Directive into UK law in order to:
- Allow employee-led organisations/mutuals to gain experience of running public services prior to full and open competition.
- Introduce shorter, less burdensome procurement processes which should reduce costs and barriers to competition.
- Give more flexibility for authorities to follow best commercial practice to achieve the best procurement outcomes.
- Give better access to public procurement to small and medium-sized enterprises, consistent with non-discrimination and a value for money approach.
This article will detail some of the material changes introduced to public procurement in the UK by the PCR 2015 which aim to facilitate the achievement of the above goals. These changes include:
- Updated procurement procedures, the introduction of the new ‘innovation partnership’ procedure and revised (shorter) timescales.
- Introduction of a light touch regime for social and other specific services contracts with a value above €750,000 (currently estimated to be £625,050).
- Introduction of a regime for contracts which have a value below the relevant thresholds for works, goods or services.
- Codification of established case law relating to contracts between bodies in the public sector; and regarding modification of contracts during their term.
- Giving effect to the Government’s public service mutuals agenda by reserving certain contracts to qualifying organisations.
- Encouraging the division of contracts into separate lots and requiring contracting authorities to explain reasons for not subdividing contracts into lots.
- Permitting contracting authorities to conduct market consultations, before commencing a procurement procedure, with a view to preparing the procurement and informing participants of their procurement plans and requirements.
- Other changes such as the requirement to post notices on Contracts Finder; obligations regarding payment of undisputed invoices within thirty days and revised grounds to exclude participants who have performed poorly under previous public contracts.
For queries on all aspects of procurement, please contact Michael Mousdale
Follow @DWF_LocalGov for further updates and commentary on the PCR 2015 and all other local government updates.This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.