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Strategies to Find and Secure Local Council Tenders and Frameworks

Written by Thornton & Lowe


Feb 14, 2024

What are Council Tenders and Frameworks

Before discussing the economic potential and growth opportunities provided by local government, let’s first provide a little clarity on some key terms. Council Tenders are formal invitations issued by local government authorities to suppliers, inviting them to submit a proposal for the provision of goods and services. They form part of the public procurement process, ensuring transparency, competition, and fairness.

We discuss wider Government tenders and public sector procurement details for bidders

Council Frameworks are agreements with suppliers to establish terms governing contracts that may be awarded during the life of the agreement. In simpler terms, they are a list of pre-approved suppliers from which council departments can purchase goods and services without going through the full tendering process every time. For further details on framework agreements and how they work, click here to view our article ‘Everything you need to know about framework agreements’ or to see which national frameworks Councils and Local Authorities tend to use, see our central frameworks page which provides details on the likes of ESPO, Crown Commercial Services, YPO and Crescent Purchasing Consortium.

In essence, both Local Council Tenders and Frameworks are mechanisms to ensure that councils procure goods and services in an efficient, fair, and transparent manner. They are designed to stimulate competition, promote economic growth, and deliver value for money to the taxpayer.

Why Council Tenders and Frameworks are Important for Business Growth

Local Council Tenders and Frameworks play a pivotal role in business growth. Firstly, they provide an avenue for businesses to secure lucrative contracts. The public sector, including local councils, is a major spender in the UK economy. Winning a tender can provide a significant boost to a business's revenue and profitability.

Secondly, Local Council Tenders and Frameworks offer stability. Unlike the unpredictable nature of the private sector, public sector contracts tend to be longer-term and more stable, providing a steady stream of revenue for businesses. This stability allows businesses to plan and invest for the future.

Lastly, winning a Local Council Tender or being included in a Council Framework enhances a business's reputation. It provides recognition, demonstrating that the business can meet the high standards required by the public sector, making your next Council tender win easier and can open doors to further opportunities, both within the public sector and beyond.

Benefits of Council Tenders for SMEs

As well as offering longer term stability, local Council tenders can often be more achievable and ‘winnable’ than other public sector contracts you may see advertised. Keeping it to local can really work. This of course also applies for local housing associations, NHS Trusts for example. If we wanted to work with Bolton Council, for example, and secure a contract, as a local business we may already have contacts who can help. We are more likely to find and be able to attend Meet the Buyer Events, which can often be a key way to meet and offer reassurance of who you are. As a local business, we may have already subcontracted to them or worked on projects which they know about. A local business usually has contacts from family, friends, employees and gaining insight can be more achievable.

By bidding for local Council tenders, you almost instantly provide reassurance to a public sector procurement team because mobilisation should be easier. Being within just a few miles of the Local Authority sites or schemes you have to delivered to or service, can be very reassuring and help balance any perceived risks of a new supplier. Your impact on the wider community, when we are thinking about Social Value, should also be more significant as you recruit and train in the same town or City you are bidding for.

Providing Solutions to Local Authority and Council Challenges to Win Tenders

Winning a council tender requires more than just submitting a bid. It involves demonstrating your capacity to provide solutions to the challenges faced by the local authority or council. This approach requires understanding the local authority's needs and expectations.

The first step in providing solutions to local authority challenges is conducting thorough research. This research should aim to understand the local authority's strategic objectives, areas of need, and potential challenges in achieving these objectives. Armed with this information, you can then tailor your tender proposal to address these needs and challenges.

It's also crucial to demonstrate your track record in delivering similar projects. This evidence reassures the local authority of your capacity to deliver on the contract. It's not enough to say you can do the job; you have to show that you've done it before and delivered results.

How to Navigate Local Authority and Council Procurement Rules

Navigating local authority and council procurement rules can be complex, especially for businesses new to the public sector. However, with a clear understanding of these rules and a strategic approach, it's possible to successfully bid for and win council tenders.

The first step in navigating procurement rules is understanding the tendering process. This process typically involves a call for bids, submission of bids, evaluation of bids, and award of the contract. Each of these stages has specific rules that must be adhered to. For further details on public sector procurement rules and how to bid and win contracts, we have also written an Ultimate Guide to Bid Writing. This will give further details on how bids are evaluated. By using this tool to guide your bids for Council tenders you will increase your chances of winning the opportunity.

Compliance with procurement rules is also essential. Non-compliance can lead to disqualification from the tendering process. Therefore, it's crucial to thoroughly read and understand the tender documents to ensure your bid complies with all the requirements.

In our Ultimate Guide to Selling into the Public Sector, we have a specific section which details Council spend limits and when they can make a direct award without a tender, when 3 quotes or a formal tender notice are required. Tailing your sales strategy within these internal Council procurement procedures can help you engage and win smaller projects while building up your experience in the sector.

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How to Find Local Council Tenders

Finding Local Council Tenders is the first step towards securing these lucrative contracts. The first resource that businesses often explore is the Contracts Finder website or Find a Tender.

Local council websites are another valuable resource. Some councils publish their tender opportunities on their websites, but also publish Contracts Registers, so you can see for your product, service or works area, who has the contract now and when it is up for renewal. Regularly checking these websites can help you stay ahead of the competition and identify opportunities as soon as they arise. For example, this is a link to Bolton Council’s Contract Register.

Here you also see our free software, Tender Pipeline which includes Council tenders, Local Authority tenders and wider UK and European government tenders:

Insert tender pipeline with search based on – Council and location UK

What Do Councils Procure? Frequently Tendered Local Authority Opportunities to Bid For

Councils in the UK procure a wide range of services to fulfil their responsibilities and provide essential services to the public. Here are 10 key services that councils commonly procure:

  • Waste Management Services - collection and disposal of household and commercial waste. See here for more details on waste management tenders
  • Social Care Services - support and care services for vulnerable individuals, including elderly care and services for people with disabilities. See our article specifically on home care tenders by clicking this link or see our broader healthcare page, which includes top tips for writing domiciliary care bids.
  • Education Services - School and educational support services, including the construction and maintenance of schools.
  • Transportation Services – from maintenance of roads, traffic management, and public transportation services. For guidance on how to win transport tenders, we've written a few articles on how to win them. We've also written about highways & civil engineering tender writing.
  • Environmental and Facilities Management Services - conservation, repairs maintenance, heating and plumbing and other environmental management services. We have numerous articles on facilities management (soft and hard) including security tenders, cleaning tenders and a broader facilities management section providing top tips on bidding for Council facility management opportunities. Or for example, our Ultimate Guide to Winning Grounds Maintenance Tenders.
  • Information Technology Services - provision and management of IT infrastructure, software, and technology support for council operations. We have produced an overarching page for technology tenders, also take a look at our G Cloud guidance which is one of the public sectors main frameworks for digital and IT services, which is used heavily by Councils and Local Authorities.
  • Construction, Repairs, and Maintenance Tenders - procurement of services related to the construction, repair, and maintenance of infrastructure, buildings, and public spaces. See here for more information including how to win construction tenders.
  • Utilities Management - procurement and management of utilities such as water, gas, and electricity for public facilities and services. See our broader utilities tenders page.
  • Recruitment Services - procurement of recruitment agencies for staffing needs within the council. Details aimed at recruitment agencies on how to win recruitment tenders, also our Guide to Writing a Recruitment Tender.
  • Professional Services - engagement of professional services such as legal, financial, and consulting services. Further details can be found regarding professional services bid writing for Council tenders along with Bid Writing for Professional Services – The Ultimate Guide.
  • Marketing Tenders - procurement of marketing and communication services to promote council initiatives and events. Marketing tenders can be competitive but by following our top tips you can maximise your bid win rate – click here for details on marketing tenders.
  • Furniture Tenders - procurement of furniture for public spaces, offices, and facilities. We've produced an in-depth blog here which includes the elements required in for furniture tenders and how to win furniture tenders.
  • Fleet Management - Management and maintenance of council-owned vehicles and transportation fleet. Our article here covers the steps required to develop a winning fleet management tender.
  • Catering Services – for Schools and academies is big business. See The Ultimate Guide to Winning Catering Tenders.

Councils and Local Authorities across the UK publish tenders for these services every day.

Bidding for Local Authority Tenders: Key Strategies

Bidding for Local Authority Tenders can be a complex process. However, by adopting a few key strategies, businesses can increase their chances of success. Firstly, it's important to understand the needs of the local authority. Each tender will have a specification detailing the requirements of the contract. Thoroughly understanding these requirements will help you tailor your bid to meet the council's needs.

Secondly, businesses should demonstrate value for money. Local authorities are tasked with ensuring taxpayer money is used efficiently. Therefore, your bid should clearly demonstrate how you can deliver the required goods or services at a competitive price, without compromising on quality.

Lastly, businesses should highlight their relevant experience and expertise. Local councils want to work with reliable suppliers who can deliver what they promise. By showcasing your track record, you can provide the reassurance they need.

Winning Strategies for Council Frameworks

Securing a place on a Council Framework is a significant achievement. It provides a business with a pre-approved status, making it easier to win contracts in the future. However, getting onto a framework can be a competitive process. Here are a few strategies to help you succeed:

  • Demonstrate your understanding of the council's needs. Just like with tenders, each framework will have a specification detailing the requirements. Understanding these requirements can help you tailor your application to meet the council's needs
  • Highlight your track record. Councils want to work with reliable suppliers. By showcasing your past successes, you can provide the reassurance they need
  • Be competitive on price. While price isn't the only factor councils consider, it's an important one. Demonstrate how you can deliver value for money to improve your chances of success
  • Consider your impact on the local community if you win the contract. Will you employ and train people locally? Will you need an apprentice or other members of team? Will you engage with local supply chain partners and train and develop them where possible? Social value in Council tenders is an increasingly important area of focus and can often be the difference between winning and losing a framework or tender opportunity. We have written about the importance of social value in tendering as a separate article.

The Bid Writing Process for Local Council Tenders

Writing a successful bid for a local Council tender requires careful planning and execution. Here are the key steps involved. Firstly, read and understand the tender documents. These documents contain crucial information about the tender, including the specification, evaluation criteria, and submission guidelines.

Next you need to prepare a response that addresses all the criteria in the specification. This should include a detailed description of how you will deliver the goods or services, evidence of your ability to meet the contract requirements, and a competitive price. We providing bid writing training courses across the UK which can help you maximise your quality scores on Local Authority and Council tender opportunities. For further details on bid writing workshops which can help you win Council procurement tenders please see our training page.

Review and submit your bid. Ensure your bid is free from errors and is submitted before the deadline. Late submissions are usually disqualified! If you need bid support we directly employ a team of professional bid writers and managers who can help you coordinate, craft and manage bid submissions to maximise your win rate for Council tenders and frameworks.

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The Evaluation Process for Local Authority Tenders

Understanding the evaluation process for Local Authority Tenders can help you tailor your bid for success. The evaluation process typically involves a panel of council officers who assess each bid against the criteria outlined in the tender documents.

The panel will check that each bid meets the minimum requirements. Bids that fail to meet these requirements are usually disqualified.

They will score each bid against the evaluation criteria. These criteria usually include price, quality, and relevant experience. Each quality question, which you are being assessed on will include a score and what it takes to maximise that score. Understanding what a good bid looks like and what is expected for Council procurement can add a lot of value. If you do not have this bid and procurement expertise in-house for Local Authority tenders, contact Thornton & Lowe and one of our dedicated outsourced bid writing consultants will contact you within the hour to provide initial guidance, free of charge.

The panel will recommend the bid that offers the best value for money. This doesn't necessarily mean the cheapest; rather, it's the bid that offers the best balance of price and quality, which is detailed in the instructions to tender – for example a 60% quality, 40% price split.

Common Challenges and Solutions in Securing Council Tenders

Securing Council Tenders can be challenging. Here are some common challenges and potential solutions. The public procurement process can be complex and time-consuming. To overcome this, consider investing in bid writing trainingor engaging a professional bid writing service.

If you are new to bidding for Council tenders it can be difficult to stand out from the competition to understand how to compete when it comes to those often-dreaded quality questions. To address this, focus on the client, understand their broader needs and consider how you can help them better than any other competitor as a result. These may be your unique selling points that demonstrate how you can deliver value for money – but it is important that they relate to the Councils challenges. E.g. if you have an excellent IT portal but the tender documents and your wider research make it very obvious that the core delivery, the people on the contract are more important to them, then this needs to be your focus, then highlighting how you IT portal may support this.

Some businesses also struggle with the formal language used in tender documents. If this is the case, consider seeking professional help, such as a bid writing service who can fully manage the bid submission for you, working in collaboration with you, or many use our bid consultancy as a bid mentor and guide to improve the bid, while training your in-house team on bidding expectations and processes.

What Information is Available Which You Can Use to Better Understand Council Tenders?

There is a wealth of information available to help you better understand Council Tenders. We have already mentioned Contract Registers often available on their own websites, but also board reports and minutes, strategy and policy documents and spend information is all available for Council and Local Authority tenders.

Showing this wider level of insight and research can often raise the quality of your tender submission above that of your competitors as you are able to show you understand their needs and highlight your expertise and experience in relation to it, beyond that provided to you within the Council procurement pack or tender pack.

This information can also provide insights into how the council operates and what they value in their suppliers.

In addition, councils provide feedback on unsuccessful bids. This feedback can provide valuable insights into how your bid was evaluated and how you can improve in the future.

Seeking Professional Help: Local Authority and Council Procurement and Bid Writing Services

Given the complexities involved in bidding for council tenders, enlisting professional help can be a wise move. Professional procurement and bid writing services have a deep understanding of the procurement rules and can help navigate the tendering process. This is all Thornton & Lowe has done since 2009, now completing over 500 bid projects each for our clients, including hundreds of successful Council tenders. For further details contact us here.

Our professional bid writers can assist in various aspects of the tendering process, such as identifying suitable tenders, preparing bid documents, and ensuring compliance with procurement rules. They can also provide valuable advice on how to make your bid stand out and increase your chances of winning the tender.

Enlisting professional help also frees up your time to focus on other aspects of your business. Our approach is to reduce the time required for our clients, however, especially with new clients or complex bids, we will still need to work with your team closely, fully understand your solution and get under the skin of the business and the tender requirement.

Council Bid Writing Successes

At Thornton & Lowe we complete over 500 bids each for our clients across almost also Councils and Local Authority. Below is a list of just some of the Councils our clients have won tenders with, supported by our bid writing consultancy services.

Birmingham City Council

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Manchester City Council

Sefton Council

Glasgow City Council

Wandsworth Borough Council

Leeds City Council

South Lanarkshire Council

Liverpool City Council

Wigan Council

Sheffield City Council

Middlesbrough Council

Edinburgh City Council

West Lothian Council

Bristol City Council

Rochdale Borough Council

Newcastle upon Tyne City Council

Barnet London Borough Council

Cardiff Council

Wolverhampton City Council

Coventry City Council

Southwark London Borough Council

Nottingham City Council

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

Belfast City Council

Cheshire East Council

Southampton City Council

Enfield London Borough Council

Leicester City Council

Plymouth City Council

Portsmouth City Council

Brent London Borough Council

Wakefield City Council

Croydon London Borough Council

Kirklees Council

Haringey London Borough Council

Fife Council

Lambeth London Borough Council

North Lanarkshire Council

Northampton Borough Council

Wirral Council

Ealing London Borough Council

Sunderland City Council

Hounslow London Borough Council

Doncaster Council

Redbridge London Borough Council

North Tyneside Council

Brentwood Borough Council

Sandwell Council

Harrow London Borough Council

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