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Changes to Government Tenders Explained: 2021

Oct 08, 2020

In the UK there are some important changes coming up to Government tenders, some of which have been announced but many of which are still in discussion at the moment.

In this blog we will break down what Government tenders are, where to find them, how they can benefit your business and any confirmed upcoming changes for 2021. We will be updating this piece as more announcements are made.

Firstly, what are Government tenders?

Government tenders, also known as public sector tenders, are contract opportunities published by the Government that give businesses the opportunity to bid for jobs to service them in areas such as providing goods, utilities, services and more.

These tenders provide businesses of all sizes with the opportunity to bring in more revenue and clients - being able to say that you have provided a service to the Government adds a level of credibility to your business.

What are local Government tenders?

Local Government or local council tenders work the same as general Government tenders. Typically the work does tend to be smaller scale as you are likely to be servicing work in a particular council area rather than larger projects.

If you are interested in local authority tenders, our free Tender Pipeline software helps you search contracts in different industries as well as find out who won contracts previously.

Are Government tenders profitable?

Yes, they are profitable. The Government spends around £700bn with private businesses every year in the UK. They are also less risky compared to contracts with the private sector as companies in the private sector can go out of business and end up owing a lot of money to suppliers, which can be a lengthy process to resolve.

How do Government tenders work, and how will they change in 2021?

Firstly, the Government will publicise a formal offer for businesses to bid for the work, which is known as an ‘Invitation to Tender’ (ITT), ‘invitation to quote’ (ITQ) or ‘request for proposal’ (RFP).

They may also ask for an ‘expression of interest’ (EOI) or for a pre-qualification questionnaire, (PQQ), ‘selection questionnaire’ or ‘European Single Procurement Document’ (ESPD). After this, businesses that have ‘passed’ would then be invited to tender, as above.

Businesses then produce a bid or tender response in the hope to win the work. From here, the Government will look through the responses and choose who they think is the best business to deliver the work.

In terms of changes to Government tenders, at the end of the Brexit transition period, which is currently 31st December 2020 (this could be extended), reports are suggesting that the Government is planning to rewrite procurement regulations for 2021, aiming to simplify the process and better support UK businesses. Currently the UK abides by EU procurement laws which means that any contracts more than £118,133 must go through the tender process. Again, this could potentially change.

There are also new measures being introduced to deliver value to society through procurement. Businesses looking to win Government work must set out how they will also deliver social value priorities in their bids from 1st January 2021.

Although it is great to see an update and formality introduced into emphasising social value during the procurement process, this is something that has largely been happening since 2012!

From what we have observed through working on tenders for local councils, Government and the public sector in general, for years it has been vital for us to emphasise social value in order to gain a competitive advantage.

We will of course see the requirements become stricter - the key difference is that this is now a requirement for the central Government, rather than local councils and Government. From what we have seen, procurement teams, buyers and local councils are already well ahead in this practice and demonstrating social value in a large number of cases.

Another key change we will see is the new UK e-notification service, Find a Tender, which is to be launched on 1st January 2020 and will replace the EU Publications office. More on this below.

Where to find Government tenders in 2021

Find a Tender will be a new e-notification service launching on 1st January 2021 and will replace the EU Publications office. This is particularly important in the case of a no-deal Brexit, which would mean that from 2021 contracting authorities will no longer have access to Tenders Electronic Daily, which is where all EU tenders are listed.

As mentioned earlier, the Contracts Finder site is the main portal where all UK tenders are currently listed, and where all Government tenders can be found. This lets you search contracts in a variety of industries, as well as allowing you to see what is coming up in the future and who has won Government tenders previously.

Our free Tender Pipeline software can also allow you to find live Government contracts in seconds, as well as local Council contracts. You can also get tender alerts sent to your email as soon as they are up.

How Government tenders can help your business grow in 2021 and beyond

Securing Government contracts can help your business grow for a few reasons:

  • Bringing in more money: securing a contract means securing extra work, and therefore more money. Contracts typically run for three years, meaning you have secure revenue coming in
  • Increase your credibility: having the Government on your list of clients will prove you are trustworthy
  • Help small businesses grow: Governments can award a substantial amount of money for work, which is great for small businesses who want to grow. In particular, the formal introduction of emphasising social value will really help SMEs and social enterprises going forward
  • Gain new clients: of course, the Government itself will be your new client, but again with increased credibility and publicity, new clients are likely to flock your way

How to win Government tenders

We’ve broken down our 5 top tips for winning Government tenders below:

  1. Understand the tender: Before even putting pen to paper, really take the time to understand the bid and if you could actually deliver the work. Doing this will save you from wasting time on contracts you would just not be able to deliver
  1. Structure the bid properly: Understand the bid thoroughly and ensure you are hitting every point you need to meet in the order it is asked for in the ITT. Make your key points crystal clear
  1. Be persuasive: General Government contracts, and even local Government contracts, are highly competitive to secure and therefore you will need to really prove why you are the best to carry out the work
  1. Give evidence: Be very descriptive about previous work you have undertaken, giving statistics on what was achieved over what timescale, what the outcome was etc - specific numbers or percentage increases to display growth are great, as well as testimonies from your clients. If you are bidding for a local council, include any local work you have carried out
  1. Get some training: The ability to write competitive and strong Government tenders requires preparation, planning and time. Develop your skills in this area through online bid training, starting at as little time as two days.

In conclusion...

Winning Government tenders is tough, and you have to make your bid really stand out due to the competitive nature of those aiming to secure work with the public sector. If you need help writing your bid and making it the best it can be, get in touch with us at Thornton & Lowe today and see how we can help.

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