The new Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which came into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on 26 February, have been broadly welcomed by housing associations as providing for “faster and more cost-effective procurement”.
The regulations, which replace the 2006 rules, include measures to cut red tape, promote social value, support SMEs and encourage pre-procurement engagement with suppliers.
John Skivington, director of public sector procurement consortium LHC, said: “The new procurement rules offer a number of benefits for social landlords, resulting in faster and more cost-effective procurement.
“Social landlords will now have a greater say on the evaluation criteria that offers them better value for money, better life cycle costs and better consideration of environmental, social and local issues. All of which will provide added benefits for residents.”
Catherine Cooper, head of procurement and supply chain management at Thrive Homes, said the 2006 regulations had “created a risk-averse culture among public sector bodies”.
“I believe these new regulations pave the way to create a much smoother path to achieving value for money and innovation within public sector services,” she said.
“Developing social value within our supply partner arrangements may also no longer be something we only dream of. The opportunity to really bring it to life will now be possible, as procurers look to improve social return outcomes by entering into discussions prior to receiving final tenders.”
Electronic tendering provider Millstream said the new regulations would “result in a number of changes that are beneficial” but it was concerned about the removal of pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ) for low-value tenders.
Tim Williams, managing director at Millstream, said: “The removal of the PQQ is not so positive. While well intentioned, this will inevitably have an impact on the ability of small firms to win public sector contracts.
“This means instead of completing a relatively short questionnaire to demonstrate their qualifications, a candidate for a public contract will have to provide exactly the same information as part of their tender, but will also have to complete a full tender proposal, which takes up a significant amount of time and resources.”