Staying out of the politics, we were led to believe that one of the key drivers for Brexit was to regain more sovereignty for the UK, but what changes should we really expect in Public Procurement from leaving the European Union?
The Prime Minister stated back in 2019 that he would “fundamentally change” public procurement rules to “back British business” suggesting the rules could be modified to allow greater scope for prioritising British companies over international suppliers. However, the Green Paper consultation made a number of recommendations for how the procurement regulations will change post-Brexit (which have just finished the consultation review), however many of these appear to be an evolution of process, and lessons learned, rather than anything to do with sovereignty. The Trade & Cooperation Act (TCA) confirms that UK suppliers established in an EU member state must be treated no less favourably than domestic suppliers, and vice versa for EU suppliers established in the UK.
Going forward, organisations need to think about where they want to base their operations, but for now, very little will change. There are ways that UK based suppliers can be prioritised, but realistically things will stay the same until organisational footprints shift over time.
So, what has changed? A potential big shift relates to the move from (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) MEAT to MAT (Most Advantageous Tender) for evaluation purposes. Is this Brexit related? I’m not sure, but the change was enabled by the separation of the UK from the EU. It seems to mostly just be making the rules more suitable for the modern world where social value and other factors become more relevant to Public Sector evaluation than economic benefits.
That said, is anything really changing? Is this more optical than radical and fundamental change? The ability to shape evaluation criteria based on value for money has previously allowed the economics to be a minor part of the assessment, so what will really change? What it will do is encourage assessments to move to a more holistic manner, but that’s not a new approach, in our eyes, just more encouragement.
So, much like when the UK joined the EU rules, there were just slight changes in approach, it seems the (Br)exit is evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but how these rules are applied will see whether this is beneficial to UK Plc or not. Worth engaging, worth watching.