Procurement Bill [HL]

Written evidence submitted by Anthony Booth, Procurement Business Partner, Bromford Housing Group (PB02)

Procurement Bill evidence submission

Dear Members of Parliament

Please accept this email as evidence for required changes to the proposed procurement bill.

Following recent training to Bromford Housing Group for the current state of the procurement Bill I offer the following observations:

1. The bill appears to regard all government / public procurement functions generically and therefore treated with the same level of scrutiny and red tape.

Please note that Housing associations such as Bromford Housing / Orbit etc are Charity organisations with limited resource and capacity to implement some of the extreme requirements of the bill without having to first recruit additional resources to perform the numerous and complex compliancy functions (ie transparency notices and payment notices). This will then involve additional cost which is effectively reducing a charity income in order to meet the excessive compliancy demands of the new bill. It is counter intuitive and morally questionable to implement rules that will require charity organisations to increase labour costs in order to achieve the aims of the procurement bill.

2. SME integration into the supply chain is welcome.

Please note that many SMEs do not have the capacity, IT capability, resource or knowledge to participate in the proposed single supplier onboarding / contract portals. Housing associations do rely on the use of smaller regional and local suppliers and a more effective and simplified process would be welcome to allow them to participate. The use of email trails and traditional spreadsheet analysis for simple tender exercises would support these instances rather than involving complex procurement systems such as precontract. This would encourage the flexibility in the supply chain that the Bill is being designed for and also allow an improved competitive position in order to achieve VFM which is also a core requirement of the bill.

3. The move towards a more competitive and simplified tendering process is welcome particularly for more complex projects where VFM and negotiation is more prominent

However, Please note that the excessive emphasise on transparency notices throughout the procurement and contract management phases will be counter productive towards housing associations and other charity based organisations with a need to recruit more people simply to address the red tape scenarios that have been proposed. This in turn will reduce charitable income and place unnecessary administrative burden as a result

Examples of Transparency Notice concerns:

- Contract termination notice to be issued in the case of all contracts:

This should be addressed to read for all contract over a certain threshold ie £5m otherwise compliance is at risk if all contracts of any value over 25k are required to be advised.

- Contract change notices (Applied over £5m):

This should be adjusted to apply to significant change (ie financial). As an example, In many cases we may add a simple contract variance simply to address mutual performance issues and these do not impact the value or structure of the contract.

- Transparency notice issued for any contract payment over £30k:

Compliance is unfeasible for any multimillion pound charity housing association since the daily/weekly volume of such payments is excessive and such a rule would be impossible to manage without the employment of a new team recruited entirely for this function. Request that this is removed or that the threshold is significantly increased accordingly.

In summary, many of the changes introduced by the new procurement bill are welcome since it now applies across the procurement and contract management processes with VFM and supplier management at the heart. However, The bill appears to be primarily focused on government departments and their way of spending. It fails to recognise the nuances and simplified needs of charity organisations and Housing Associations where resources are limited and the compliance rules invoked could be viewed as over excessive for these particular industries and lead to unnecessary red tape, increase labour costs and loss of income.

I would request that Parliament consider my submission and make their considerations accordingly

Thank you for your consideration

Anthony Booth
Procurement Business Partner
Bromford Housing Group

January 2023


Prepared 31st January 2023