The rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak has left many SMEs feeling uncertain about their future.

Information and advice from Government can change quickly, which is why Supply2Gov is committed to supporting its customers and the supplier market through this challenging time.

Find out the latest information around the support SME businesses can receive during the Coronavirus pandemic below.

 

New loan scheme available in May

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced a new 100% government backed loan scheme for small business at the end of April.

Small businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 and access the cash within a matter of days. These loans will be interest free for the first 12 months, and businesses can apply online.

Those in need of financial support can apply through a short, standardised online application. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

“Our smallest businesses are the backbone of our economy and play a vital role in their communities. This new rapid loan scheme will help ensure they get the finance they need quickly to help survive this crisis.

This is in addition to business grants, tax deferrals, and the job retention scheme, which are already helping to support hundreds of thousands of small businesses.”

 

Businesses will be able to apply for a loan from Monday 4 May. The government is working with lenders to ensure loans delivered through this scheme are advanced as quickly as possible. Lenders will also agree with businesses on a low standardised level of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

UK Government supporting small businesses

The UK government has provided over £15 billion for business since its coronavirus response launched. Funding has been allocated to the following areas:

  • Job retention scheme – more than 500,000 claims have already been made to the value of £4.5billion
  • Business grants – half a million business properties have benefited from £6 billion of business grants
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – with over 20,000 loans
  • The Covid Corporate Financing Facility, which has provided over £14 billion for larger firms
  • VAT deferrals worth billions of pounds
  • Scrapped businesses rates
  • The government is also covering the cost of statutory sick pay

We are here to help

Within public sector supply chains, COVID-19 is impacting both what the public sector buys and how it buys. Our experience, expertise and insight are fully at your disposal, ensuring you can navigate through this period successfully, and prepare for opportunities now and in the future.

We are proud to own the largest database of contract and award data in the UK, coupled with the core insight that you need to improve your win rate with the public sector.

Find public sector contracts with Supply2Gov.

Get Started

 

 

* All information provided in this article is given in good faith. However, to the extent that any actions taken in relation to matters concerning procurement, the above article does not constitute legal advice to you. The contents of these articles are not to be construed as legal advice or a substitute for such advice, which you should obtain from your own legal advisors if required. We are not and shall not be held responsible for anything done or not done by you as a result of the information provided.

 

 

The Scottish Government extended the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) Call for Ideas from 31 March to 30 April, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Closing tomorrow, this includes the housing technical discussion paper and the invitation to submit projects for consideration as national developments.

 

What is the National Planning Framework?

Scotland’s NPF is a long-term spatial plan that sets out where development and infrastructure is needed in the country, to support sustainable and inclusive growth.

NPF4 will guide spatial development, set out Scotland’s national policies, designate national developments and reflect regional spatial priorities.

The Scottish Government believes that NPF4 has a huge part to play in how the country shapes its development between now and 2050. On the government website it states:

 

“It will be a long-term development plan for Scotland, setting out where development and infrastructure will be needed to support sustainable and inclusive growth while facing up to some domestic and global challenges. This is to be Scotland’s fourth National Planning Framework, and we need people from across sectors and from across Scotland to help us design it.”

 

How to get involved?

All suppliers are asked to watch a short PowerPoint which provides the context to NPF4.

They must then think about what they can deliver around NPF4’s 5 themes of climate change, people, work, place, and delivery.

This must be demonstrated as outlined on the Scottish Government’s website. All Ideas can be submitted to scotplan@gov.scot.

If you are unable to get involved before early engagement period closes, the Scottish Government insists that there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved at other stages, including the formal consultation period on the draft NPF4 in the autumn.

 

As the coronavirus crisis rages on, the construction industry is still adjusting to the ‘lockdown’ way of life.

New research from Glenigan has confirmed that “3,000 on-site projects have been impacted by COVID-19”, with work halting on 29% of UK construction sites at the beginning of April 2019.

 

COVID-19 and the impact on the UK construction sector

Although the Government has given formal approval for work on HS2 to commence its construction phase, many other construction projects have been interrupted.

Devolved authorities across the country have suspended works due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Glenigan has reported that:

“Northern Ireland has been the hardest hit, following the decision by the Northern Ireland Executive to suspend work on almost all construction sites.”

“Non-essential” sites have also been told to close by the Scottish government, which will have a significant impact upon private housing and non-residential sites. It is believed that 79% of Scottish sites are now currently suspended.

The Scottish government has released a new Construction Policy Note (CPN) 1/2020 which complements Scottish Procurement Policy Notes 4/2020 and 5/2020. The policy note states:

“Scottish Government’s objective for the construction sector during the COVID-19 pandemic is to help ensure that Scotland as a whole takes a responsible approach to the containment of COVID-19 while being in a position to respond to both critical and longer term recovery requirements.”

 

When will sites reopen?

It is unclear when life will go back to normal for the construction industry. However, some sites have begun to reopen.

It has been confirmed that Bouygues UK is to reopen some of their sites week commencing 20 April 2020, after a three-week shutdown to review safe working practices. A spokesman for the organisation has said:

“Safety remains our priority. We have been working in close collaboration with our staff, supply chain and clients to ensure work can continue safely.”

 

How can Supply2Gov help?

Supply2Gov is committed to supporting its customers and the supplier market through this challenging time. Within public sector supply chains, COVID-19 is impacting both what the public sector buys and how it buys. Our experience, expertise and insight are fully at your disposal, ensuring you can navigate through this period successfully, and prepare for opportunities now and in the future.

We are proud to own the largest database of contract and award data in the UK, coupled with the core insight that you need to improve your win rate with the public sector.

Learn more about how you can find construction tenders with Supply2Gov.

Find Construction Tenders

 

 

* All information provided in this article is given in good faith. However, to the extent that any actions taken in relation to matters concerning procurement, the above article does not constitute legal advice to you. The contents of these articles are not to be construed as legal advice or a substitute for such advice, which you should obtain from your own legal advisors if required. We are not and shall not be held responsible for anything done or not done by you as a result of the information provided.

 

 

When the public and private sectors come together, both parties can benefit.

The UK government wants businesses to grow and succeed, and in recent years has made several promises to open the public sector procurement market to new suppliers and those from SME backgrounds.

With the public sector always looking to improve its service delivery and identify new, innovative suppliers, it may be worthwhile to start looking for new opportunities within this thriving marketplace.

 

Is government contracting right for your business?

There is a high chance your business could find work with the public sector as it procures a diverse range of goods, works and services. The public sector needs everything from pencils to buildings, all of which need to be purchased via the public procurement process.

The UK Government spends around £284 billion on goods, works  and services each year and thousands of suppliers are getting a piece of the action.

That said, your business should weigh up the pros and cons of entering this market before it gets started. We weigh up the pros and cons of government contracting below.

 

Pros

 

  • Government contracts can guarantee a small business ongoing revenue and stable cash flow which in turn will support their businesses development.
  • The public sector marketplace is a fair playing field. Transparency in the public sector is a must, so government bodies have to be honest and professional in the way they choose suppliers.
  • Unlike private sector contracts, the public sector is never a bad debt risk. The public sector must pay promptly. Accounts must be paid within 30 days of receiving a valid bill or invoice.
  • Even if your business fails to win a contract, you are entitled to ask for a debrief. This feedback will help your business to grow and understand where you went wrong this time. If you do decide to go back to the drawing board and bid for another tender, make sure you use this information to your advantage and learn from your mistakes.
  • Having a public sector client on your books will look great to other potential clients and will help you to build references for future procurements.

 

Cons

  • If you think that your business will get rich quick through government contracting, then think again. The procurement process is intricate and lengthy. Your business will invest a lot of time bidding for contracts – some that it may not win.
  • It can be difficult for beginners to get their head around the public sector procurement process. If you are new to the process, there are lots of great resources you can use to help you get started. Supply2Gov customers are given top tendering tips when they join which give users the knowledge necessary to tackle procurement in the right way to succeed.
  • If you are bidding for work with the public sector, your business will need to afford the short-term costs of fulfilling the contract. Even if your business is successful, there may be costs as you may have to travel after winning the contract or pay additional staff to fulfil the specification.

 

We take the hard part out of government tendering

The benefits of government contracting outweigh the cons and we are here to help get you through the process.

At Supply2Gov we help new and existing suppliers find contracts that are right for their business, to help them grow in this lucrative market.

We help our customers get started with our Supply2Gov guides so that they can make the most of the opportunities that are available to then and learn more about public sector procurement.

When it comes to finding opportunities, our team can also help. We put all our contract information in one simple to use place for you. This tender database is the UK and Republic of Ireland’s largest and is researched from over 3,000 sources (we publish more opportunities than even the Government’s own national contract services).

Registration is free and easy, and we can help you to find opportunities relevant to your business right away.

Get started

 

In these uncertain times, public sector authorities may need to procure goods, services and works with extreme urgency. Authorities are permitted to do this using Regulation 32(2)(c) under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

On 18 March 2020, the UK Cabinet Office released a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) giving information and guidance on the public procurement regulations in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

We explain what Regulation 32 is and how it affects public sector procurement during this time.

 

What is Regulation 32?

Buyers can implement Regulation 32 in specific cases and circumstances. Using the regulation, contracting authorities may award public contracts by a negotiated procedure without prior publication.

Regulation 32 can be used when “for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation cannot be complied with” – which pertains to the current Coronavirus crisis.

 

Procurement during the COVID-19 pandemic

During this time, if a public sector organisation has an urgent requirement for goods, services or works due to COVID-19, they must procure this requirement under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. As stated in the Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Note, accelerated procurement measures can include:

  • direct award due to extreme urgency
  • direct award due to the absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights
  • call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system
  • call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales
  • extending or modifying a contract during its term

Regulation 32 deals with direct award due to extreme urgency or direct award due to the absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights.

 

Payment to suppliers

Following this recent PPN an action note was released concerning suppliers under contract to the public sector who may find themselves in difficulty during this time. The note states that:

“Contracting authorities must act now to ensure suppliers at risk are in a position to resume normal contract delivery once the outbreak is over.”

As part of this response, public sector organisations must “urgently review their contract portfolio and inform suppliers who they believe are at risk that they will continue to be paid as normal (even if service delivery is disrupted or temporarily suspended) until at least the end of June” and ensure that invoices submitted by suppliers are paid immediately on receipt in order to maintain cash flow in the supply chain and protect jobs.

 

How you can help

If your business wants to support the public sector during this difficult time, it is important that you remain on the lookout for all the latest contract announcements.

While not all new public sector contracts will be published, you cannot afford to miss them when they are. We recommend including ‘COVID-19’ in your keywords to ensure you don’t miss any opportunities that do appear in response to the current pandemic.

 

Not a Supply2Gov customer yet?

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If you’ve found a contract opportunity with Supply2Gov, it’s time to bid.

If you are working on how to apply for a tender in the UK, this blog is for you. Applying is, of course, an integral part of the tendering process so it is vital that you get it right as winning an opportunity could really benefit your business.

 

Getting started

Bidding for public sector contracts is a commitment. Before bidding for any contract opportunity, any business should ask itself “is it the right tender for us?”

Think whether your business meets all the criteria set out in the documents and whether this tender is a sensible commitment or one that would come to dominate your business, potentially putting it at risk if anything went wrong.

Applying for a tender of any size is time consuming. Going for an opportunity that can help you win big orders seems like a great idea at the time, but the process will tie up valuable resources, so you should be sure it’s right for you.

Make sure your business can tick the following boxes when applying for a tender:

  • Your business can meet the technical skills and experience required to fulfil the contract
  • The work involved is truly relevant to the strategy and positioning of your business
  • Your business can afford to invest the time and resource that is required to bid, even if you do lose out on the contract
  • The contract will help your business grow in the long term

Small businesses that dive in headfirst without asking these questions could risk losing time, money and the contract.

Tendering procedures

The tendering process can take different structured forms. You should familiarise yourself with them before you get started.

These procedures are governed by the EU and transposed into UK law by the Public Procurement Regulations 2015 so currently still apply even though the UK left the EU on 31 January. Each procedure sets out a series of steps suppliers must follow in order to bid for the tender.

 

Open Procedure

You’ll be pleased to know an open procedure is only a one stage process. To be successful you must submit the selection criteria and the full tender at the same time and submit them, on time and complete.

This kind of tender is evaluated, and the contract awarded to the successful bidder – it’s that simple!

 

Restricted Procedure

The restricted procedure is when things start to get more complex. This two-stage procedure includes a Selection Stage (SQ) and an Invitation to Tender (ITT). Every interested supplier must complete the SQ and submit it to the awarding authority by the specified deadline.

Once the SQs have been evaluated, the buyer invites a minimum of five contractors to submit a full tender by a second specific deadline. After the deadline, the buyer evaluates the tenders and awards the contract to the successful bidder.

 

Competitive Dialogue

Like the restricted procedure, competitive dialogue includes different stages.

After the SQ stage of the competitive dialogue procedure, there is a stage titled ‘Invitation to Participate in Dialogue’ (ITPD).

The ITPD stage is when buyers discuss with successful SQ suppliers the solutions they are proposing in greater detail. Mini bidding rounds may then take place to narrow down the number of bidders.

Following this, the buyer will then move to the full Dialogue stage of the procedure and will work closely with the remaining suppliers to test and assess the solutions being put forward.

When this concludes the buyer can then proceed with the ITT, an evaluation will happen, and the contract will be awarded.

 

Innovation Partnership

Unlike the other procedures, this procedure has been designed by the public sector to encourage innovation and invite new players into the marketplace.  This procedure is particularly relevant for suppliers that can offer cutting-edge solutions. The procedure itself mirrors the Competitive Procedure.

 

What type of tender is best for SMEs?

Although Innovation Partnerships are great for new players to the marketplace, the Open Procedure offers SMEs a better chance of success as all suppliers that meet the selection criteria will have their tenders evaluated. However, this does require you to spend the time needed to put together a full tender bid with no idea how many others are bidding. The Restricted Procedure, on the other hand, only requires completion of the shorter SQ initially. Only if the buyer is really interested in what you have to offer will they invite you to submit a full tender bid, with all the work that entails.

 

Top tips: Applying for tenders in the UK

If your business has found a relevant opportunity and it can offer a product or service that can really deliver what the buyer needs, there’s every chance that you could be successful!

Planning

Don’t underestimate the application process. If you really want to win a tender, you should put together a timetable for completing your tender response.

Having this in place will enable your organisation to work back from the final tender deadline and will help you to prepare all the documentation you need for the process.

If you want a perfect tender try and aim to have your response ready a day or two before the deadline, and get someone else in your organisation to read it through with fresh eyes to spot any factual or grammatical errors before submission. No buyer will be impressed by a sloppy submission.

 

Be specific

When writing your tender response, try to describe what you do in detail, confirm how much it costs and the time scales involved, how long the project will take.

Talking about the benefit you can offer seems like an obvious thing to add to any tender. However, make sure that you are focusing specifically on that client, do your research and find out what matters to them.

Zone in on their needs and how the services or products your business can offer can solve their problems.

 

Stand out from the crowd

After you have outlined the benefits of working with your business, have a think about what differentiates your business from your competitors and what your solution can offer beyond the scope of the contract. This is where added value comes into play.

When you are writing a bid always specify the add-ons which are included in your price. The little things can add up, so make sure that you are putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes and give them the full details of what your business can offer as part of your package.

 

Always personalise

It may seem tempting to keep stock answers when applying for tenders, but a buyer will be able to spot them from a mile away.

Make sure that you always tailor your responses to the bid. If you don’t take time to read the questions and give a specific answer to them then you have failed before you have started.

Understanding the questions is incredibly important and as every tender is different and that means that every buyer is too. If you are not clear on what a question means, you will have an opportunity to ask the buyer questions. Remember, the more you know about the tender when applying – the better chance you have of winning!

 

Quality over price

Public sector organisations do everything they can to keep prices low. However, your business should not slash its prices as this is one of the most common mistakes made in the tendering process.

The cheapest bid doesn’t always win. The UK Public Procurement Regulations 2015 state that when buyers are scoring a tender, the focus is not just to be placed on price, but on the best value for money – the best price for the best quality, which increasingly includes life-cycle costs such as parts, maintenance and even disposal.

 

Why apply for public sector tenders?

The UK public sector spends around £284 billion each year on goods, works and services in the process we know as procurement. In recent years government has encouraged small businesses to seek opportunities, as aims to spend £1 in every £3 with SMEs, directly or through the supply chain, by 2022.

At Supply2Gov we help new and existing suppliers find contracts that are right for their business, to help them grow in this lucrative market.

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