VCSE Supply Chains

Following on from the appointment in February of Claire Dove (pictured above) as the VCSE sector’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) representative, the CCS issued a new Procurement Policy Note (PPN) on supply chain visibility, prompted by Government’s desire “to level the playing field and increase the visibility of supply chain opportunities to assist suppliers, including SMEs, in bidding for work in its supply chains.” From 1 May central government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies must update their terms and conditions of contract with prime contractors to include the following obligations: a requirement to advertise, on Contracts Finder, any subcontract opportunities valued at £25,000 or above; and frequent submission of reports to provide detail of spend on sub-contracting, in addition to how much of that spend relates to SME or VCSE organisations. These obligations only apply to public contracts with a value of £5 million or more a year and only need to be factored into procurements which commence on/after 1 May 2018. In-scope organisations have the ability to increase the £25,000 threshold up to a maximum of £100,000, if they consider the minimum threshold of £25,000 to be ‘overly burdensome’ to suppliers on a particular procurement. Sub-contractors may lodge complaints if they feel that they are missing out on significant sub-contracting opportunities. Contracting authorities may therefore wish to consider inclusion of the above clauses within their terms and conditions on a voluntary basis to maximise competition and increase SME participation. The PPN does not dictate how sub-contracts are to be procured. There is a requirement to allow a reasonable and proportionate amount of time for sub-contractor bidders to respond. This development is welcome provided it is enforced and it also offers public sector commissioners a way of ensuring that the Social Value Act is more consistently rolled out across public procurement.