Tendering UK

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Tendering is the process of responding to such an opportunity, making a formal offer to supply a specific service, works or goods.

What is a tender? What is tendering? E-tendering?

A tender is an opportunity, it is an invitation, the response to a formal request from a buyer or contracting authority. Tendering is the process of responding to such an opportunity, making a formal offer to supply a specific service, works or goods.

Online E-tendering has become the central way of managing this process, ensuring a streamlined approach, which is transparent and accountable. There are now hundreds of E-tendering portals, which can be frustrating for a bidder, as they to learn and understand how each works. Examples include Bravo Solutions, Procontract, Mytenders and NHS Supply Chain Procurement Portal.

Typically, a bidder will find a tender opportunity, which will provide details of which tendering portal they are using and how to access the tender documents. Or they are invited to tender via an email which again has details of how to access the E-tendering platform. The portals usually contain all the documents which can be downloaded, an online questionnaire to complete in the portal itself and a function for managing clarification questions and answers.

This approach is largely associated with the Public Sector, though many large private sector organisations have adopted it.  

Tenders – what is the opportunity? 

Market - UK Public Sector 

UK Public Sector contracts represent 90% of the bids completed by Thornton & Lowe.

Public spending

The graph below highlights UK government revenue and spending between 2016 and 2026, according to Statistica.com.

In 2020, the government revenue in the United Kingdom was approximately £778.44 billion, while government spending was around £1,062.3 billion.

The exact projections for revenue and spending are in the table below:


Revenue in billion pounds

Spending in billion pounds



















Table 1: Statistica annual spending forecast

OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) predict that total revenue over the next five years will increase by 27%, driven by markets like housing and following a rebound after the Covid-19 virus. However, their forecast suggests that public spending will rise by only 6% in cash terms as some pandemic-related spending will end in 2021-22. The OBR expect that the economy will return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2022.

The chart below demonstrates public sector spending between 2021 and 2022, according to OBR and HM Treasury’s calculations.

Bidding for these contracts

Bidding for these contracts does take time and real consideration, especially for a business that has not done it before. You will be asked about your financial stability, insurances, accreditations, approach ensuring quality, business continuity, information security management, health and safety, environmental management, Corporate Social Responsibility and Social Value. You will be asked for your prices but also detailed questions on your approach, your experience, how you can exceed the requirement, meet the timescales, along with any other value-added activities you can suggest while fulfilling the contract.

If you are responding to tenders and providing this level of information you can see why many businesses end up recruiting a specific Bid Team to manage tendering. Depending on the number of tenders you respond to you may have a single Bid Writer but this can be a very difficult job considering the elements which need to be covered. Including:

  • Monitoring portals for tender and mini competitions/ call-offs
  • Assessing whether the tender is appropriate and winnable
  • Interviewing the technical team to collect information on their approach and solution design
  • Responding to the detailed selection criteria and quality method statements contained within the tender
  • Pricing
  • Manging updated versions of the tender documents to ensure a compliant response
  • Monitoring clarification questions
  • Chasing feedback
  • Tender de-brief to ensure lessons are learned after each bid to ensure they get better and better

Many organisations choose to outsource their tendering. At Thornton & Lowe we cover everything in the list above other than pricing. We monitor tender alerts, coordinate the response, interview your team and develop the quality responses, as well as continue to challenge ourselves and the client to make the tender responses better each time.   

If you are interested in tenders or have any questions about the best route to access this market, please contact us now.

We have recently launched our Tender Pipeline Software. Get FREE Tender updates, announcements and competitor information straight to your email. 

" We recently utilised the Bid Resource Division of Thornton and Lowe in order to recruit two additional team members for our Bids and Tenders team.

They were successful in sourcing excellent candidates for both Bid Writer and Bid Manager roles.

We were extremely happy with the standard of candidates introduced to us and the service we received.

Consequently, we would have no hesitation in recommending Thornton and Lowe to any companies looking for any assistance with their recruitment of Bids,Tenders and Proposals Specialists. "

Nico Prinsloo Commercial Sales Director - CH&Co Group

" We would recommend Thornton & Lowe as a specialist bid recruiter having recently worked with them on a bid writer vacancy. We appreciated the professionalism, pragmatism and honesty clearly demonstrated and most importantly we recruited a very good candidate from a small talent pool. "

Zeena Ozturk, Centry Services

" We utilised the Bid Resource Division of Thornton and Lowe on two occasions recently, we were looking to recruit additional Technical Bid Writers to join our expanding Technical and Corporate Services team

The resource team at Thornton and Lowe fully understood our requirements and were able to source some excellent candidates for the roles.

Both successful candidates are now making a positive contribution to the team and we would have no hesitation in recommending Thornton and Lowe to any companies looking to recruit Bids,Tenders and Proposals Specialists. "

Pamela Lilley, Human Resources Manager, Walker Construction

" I wanted to take this opportunity to thank Thornton & Lowe for their recent help in finding a suitable placement for our senior bid writer position. Both Mark and Chris have invaluable knowledge of the bid writing world and took the time to understand our exact needs and company culture. As such, they found us the right person who is perfectly suited to the role, but more importantly to the team and the company.

Thank you! "

Charlotte LeComber, Bid Manager, Crown Partnership

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