Procurement bill drops 350 EU laws, aims to boost SME spend

Procurement bill drops 350 EU laws, aims to boost SME spend

New procurement rules which aim to level the playing field for SMEs have moved a step closer to becoming law.

The Procurement Bill, which aims to replace EU rules with a single flexible framework for securing public sector contracts, was debated at Second Reading in the Lords last Wednesday and is expected to become law next year.

The reforms are expected to increase government spending with SMEs, which increased for the fourth consecutive year to a record £19.3 billion in 2020/21.

Spending through SMEs grew by £3.7 billion on the previous year, with £10.2 billion of the total spent with SMEs directly and a further £9.1 billion through supply chains.

Debating the bill, Lord William Wallace highlighted training as a key issue. He said:

“The problems of implementation cannot be dealt with very easily in law. The training of national and local civil servants to manage procurement is clearly very important.”

Lord David Alton highlighted an opportunity to increase national security through the bill. He stated:

“Essentially, procurement should strengthen national resilience. It should reduce dependency on states which pose risks to our national security. It should protect British manufacturing from competitors that use slave labour, or grossly exploited labour, and send a signal to the private sector that it is simply unethical to buy cheap goods from states where citizens are being subjected to appalling inhumanity, including genocide.”

The bill is now at committee stage. If implemented, changes could be introduced as early as August 2023.

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