Public Sector Outsourcing Survival Guide: What you need to know about the latest Procurement Policy Notes

15 minute read
04 May 2022

The Cabinet Office has produced a range of Procurement Policy Notes (PPNs) in the last two years, mainly to support contracting authorities and their suppliers in mitigating the immediate impact of COVID-19.

PPNs provide guidance on best practice for public sector procurement, and include valuable supporting documentation and Frequently Asked Questions.

Each PPN will have different "In-Scope Organisations" that it will apply to, for example, Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies. The PPN will also state the contract value at which the PPN will apply, when the provisions need to be applied and their duration (if relevant).

We have summarised in this insight the key PPNs from the last two years. All PPNs and accompanying guidance notes are available on the Cabinet Office website.

PPN 01/20: Responding to COVID-19

Published: 18.3.2020

Updated: N/A

Procurement Policy Note 02/20: supplier relief due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Published: 20.3.2020

Updated: 12.1.2021

PPN 04/20: Recovery and Transition from COVID-19

Published: 9.6.2020

Updated: 25.6.2020

  • Authorities are required to do the following to ensure continuity of service during COVID-19:
    • Review contract portfolio – if appropriate, maintain delivery of critical services;
    • Develop transition plans to exit from relief, agreeing contract variations if requirements have changed significantly;
    • Work with suppliers during transition to ensure contracts are relevant, sustainable and value for money;
    • Pay suppliers as quickly as possible.
  • The PPN is effective to 31 October 2020, but is not listed as out of date.

PPN 06/20 – taking account of social value in the award of central government contracts

Published: 24.9.2020

Updated: N/A

  • The PPN launched a model to deliver social value in public procurement.
  • Social value should be evaluated in all central government procurements, where the requirements are related and proportionate to the subject matter of the contract.
  • A minimum weighting of 10% of the total score needs to be apportioned to social value for all new procurements from 1 January 2021.
  • Application of the Social Value model is mandatory, but there is flexibility in deciding the outcomes to be applied.
  • Annex A to the PPN provides Themes and Outcomes to be applied as part of the evaluation criteria, which include COVID-19 recovery and fighting climate change.
  • Please see our ThinkHouse Procurement Masterclass on Social Value for a detailed summary.

PPN 08/20: Introduction of Find a Tender

Published: 23.11.2020

Updated: N/A

  • The PPN reminds Authorities of the new UK e-notification service, where notices for new procurements are required to be published in place of the Official Journal of the European Union's Tenders Electronic Daily (OJEU/TED).

PPN 09/20: The Construction Playbook

Published: 8.12.2020

Updated: N/A

PPN 10/20: Public Procurement after the Transition Period ends on 31 December 2020

Published: 10.12.2020

Updated: N/A

  • New UK procurement opportunities to be published on Find a Tender services – new opportunities no longer to be sent to the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) or Tenders Electronic Daily.
  • Subsequent notices (i.e. award or modification notices) for procurements advertised in OJEU before 23:00 on 31 December 2020 to be sent to OJEU and Find a Tender (note also Contracts Finder requirements).

PPN 11/20: Reserving below threshold procurements

Published: 15.12.2020

Updated: 3.9.2021

  • Requirement to comply with Chapter 8 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the "Regulations") applicable to below threshold procurements (i.e. publish certain opportunities and awards on Contracts Finders and assessing suitability).
  • Relevant where Part 2 of the Regulations would have otherwise applied, but does not as the estimated contract value is less than the relevant threshold.
  • Guidance on options to authorities to streamline and simplify under threshold procurements to, for example, tackle economic inequality or attracting new entrants to government markets.
  • Authorities are presented with two options:
    • Reserve procurement by supplier location to support economic inequality, local recruitment, training, skills and investment; and/or
    • Reserve procurement for SMEs or Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprises (VCSEs).

PPN 01/21: Procurement in an Emergency

Published: 4.2.2021

Updated: N/A

  • The PPN is a reminder to authorities of options available, and builds on guidance in PPN 01/20.
  • The guidance provides information on commercial risks around direct awards without competition, which may include:
    • Poor value for money, such as abnormally high pricing;
    • Unequal treatment of suppliers in the procurement process;
    • Poor practice due to procuring at speed, such as retrospective contract awards or retrospective due diligence checks;
    • Lack of documentation around key procurement decisions including how conflicts of interest are identified and managed.
  • The PPN emphasises the importance of keeping proper records, and the requirement for a Regulation 84 Report for procurements utilising Regulation 32(2)(c) of the Regulations.
  • Authorities are required to consider some form of advertisement / informal competition / due diligence on supplier market before making a direct award – the PPN acknowledges that this is not specifically required by Regulation 32(2)(c).

PPN 02/21: The WTO GPA and the UK-EU TCA

Published: 19.2.2021

Updated: N/A

  • UK previously part of GPA through EU membership, and GPA requirements are continuation of current practice.

PPN 03/21: The Sourcing and Consultancy Playbooks

Published: 20.5.2021

Updated: N/A

PPN 04/21: Applying Exclusions in Public Procurement, Managing Conflicts of Interest and Whistleblowing

Published: 20.5.2021

Updated: 9.9.2021

  • Regulation 24 of the Regulations requires public bodies to take appropriate measures to prevent, identify and remedy conflicts of interest.
  • The Civil Service Code provides a framework for processes to be followed by civil servants to report conflicts of interest.
  • The PPN reminds authorities of the grounds for mandatory and discretionary exclusion of bidders, exceptions, duration of exclusions, self-cleaning, and methods by which the existence of grounds for exclusion can be verified.

PPN 05/21: National Procurement Policy Statement

Published: 3.6.2021

Updated: N/A

  • The PPN applies to contracting authorities, and authorities are required to consider national / local priority outcomes in procurement activities: creating new business, jobs and skills; climate change and waste; supplier diversity, innovation and resilience.
  • Please see our ThinkHouse Procurement Masterclass on Social Value for a summary on the National Procurement Policy Statement.

PPN 06/21: Taking account of Carbon Reduction Plans in the procurement of major government contracts

Published: 5.6.2021

Updated: 27.8.2021

  • The PPN sets out how to take account of bidders Net Zero Carbon Reduction Plans in the procurement of major government contracts. The guidance follows the 'Net zero target', with an aim for a 100% reduction in net UK carbon account by 2050.
  • The PPN applies to central government departments, executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies with an anticipated contract value of £5 million+ per annum (excluding VAT) that are subject to the Regulations. It also applies to framework agreements and Dynamic Purchasing Systems where the individual value of contract awarded is £5 million+ per annum.
  • There is a requirement for in-scope authorities to include in their selection criteria a requirement for bidders to provide a Carbon Reduction Plan, confirming their commitment to achieve Net Zero by 2050 and the environmental measures in place. A template is provided at Annex A to PPN.

PPN 08/21 - Taking account of a bidder's approach to payment in the procurement of major government contracts

Published: 21.10.2021

Updated: N/A

  • Updates and replaces PPN 07/20 from 1 April 2022.
  • Applies where contract value is above £5 million (excluding VAT) per year to procurements that are subject to the Regulations.
  • Assessment of a bidder's payment systems to demonstrate that it has a reliable supply chain, and when it would be appropriate to exclude bidders that cannot demonstrate effective systems.
  • Key update from previous PPN is increase to threshold bidders have to meet to demonstrate effective payment systems to ensure reliability of supply chain.
  • A bidder will be excluded if it does not meet selection criteria, taking into account self-declarations and assessment of systems and recent payment performance, or if successful bidder is unable to verify self-declarations with evidence.
  • Questions include, for example, a bidder paying >95% of all supply chain invoices in 60 days.

PPN 09/21: Requirements to publish on Contracts Finder

Published: 30.11.2021

Updated: 20.12.2021

  • Reminder to authorities to publish procurement information about opportunities and awards over certain low value thresholds on Contracts Finder, replacing PPN 07/21.
  • Clarifies requirements for NHS Foundation Trusts, but no change to requirements for other authorities as set out in PPN 07/21.

PPN 10/21 – Thresholds and Inclusion of VAT

Published: 6.12.2021

Updated: N/A

  • This PPN provides the new threshold values that will apply for the purposes of the Regulations, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016, Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011.
  • The guidance also sets out a change to the methodology for estimating contract values to be inclusive of VAT for the purposes of applying the thresholds.
  • Annex A to the PPN provides a summary of threshold levels effective from 1 January 2022.

PPN 01/22:Contracts with suppliers from Russia and Belarus

Published: 28.3.2022

Updated: N/A

Please see our summary of the PPN.

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