How the 2024 General Election Might Impact Public Sector Procurement and the Procurement Act 2023

With the general election just around the corner, some businesses are concerned with how it will affect them, particularly when it comes to public procurement.  In this insight paper we explore the impact general elections can have, including how the Procurement Act may be affected and how Contracts Advance can support during this time and beyond.

In the weeks leading up to an election governments, ministers and civil servants enter a period of ‘heightened sensitivity’ which in the past was often known as ‘purdah’. During this period caution is exercised in making announcements or decisions that might influence the election campaign. This period is not set out in law, but it is governed by conventions and guidance is provided to all who are impacted.

Looking at procurement specifically, civil servants have been issued guidance relating to decision making. This guidance states that ‘Essential business including routine business necessary to ensure the continued smooth functioning of government and public services must be carried on’. This highlights that procurement falling under ‘routine’ or ‘business necessary’ must continue during the build up to the election. This is backed up by procurement data, which shows all public bodies continue to procure contracts throughout.

Looking specifically at the volume of tender and pin notices which have been published during previous elections, local government have increased the volume of publications. Whilst it’s thought the volume hasn’t increased in relation to the elections, it shows that local government procurement isn’t slowed either.

Historically, there has been a slight reduction in the number of NHS and central government procurements. This will relate to the size and sensitivity of the types of contracts these bodies procure. In the guidance published to civil servants relating to the 2024 election, it is noted that ‘decisions on matters of policy, and other issues such as large and/or contentious commercials contracts, on which a new government might be expected to want the opportunity to take a different view from the present government, should be postponed until after the election, provided that such postponement would not be detrimental to the national interest or wasteful of public money’. The historic data has shown that the reduction in the volume of procurements has been minor and has increased again post the election taking place.

The current big unknown is around the Procurement Act which is set to go live on the 28th October 2024. For the go live date to be met there are still regulations which need to be implemented. These outstanding regulations would need to work their way through parliament and be passed when parliament recommences. This is not likely to happen until September after the summer recess. If this is the case, parliament won’t have much time making it very challenging for the go live date to be met. Due to this squeeze on time, it is more likely that the go live date will be pushed back. The length of the delay is likely to be impacted by which political party makes it into power. If the polls are correct and we have a Labour government moving forward it is likely they will want to make tweaks to the rules having publicly supported elements of the new regime whilst being critical of other areas. This could delay the go live date until late 2025.

Contracts Advance are here to support pre and post-election, keeping customers updated and informed on public sector procurement.  The Contracts Advance software is an essential tool for securing public sector contracts at any time but during the run up to an election it can be even more useful.  For example, if in some markets the volume of tenders reduces, it’s imperative to capture those that are published and the tailored Contracts Advance software, along with its daily email alerts, makes this quick and easy.  Also, if the volume of tenders increases particularly post-election, the Contracts Advance software can make it easier to spot those must win opportunities as it is specifically tailored to business needs.  In addition, the software can help to increase the chances of success in winning public sector contracts with its powerful Market Analysis function.  Proactively and strategically engaging buyers in advance of a tender is essential and the Market Analysis function can enable this with detailed insight on buyers included named contacts.  It also contains powerful insight on competitors so relative strengths can be compared and chances of success evaluated, ensuring strong and successful bids.

If you have any further questions relating to the Contracts Advance software, please reach out to your Account Manager who will be more than happy to help.

Authored by Tim Campbell, Sales & Marketing Director Contracts Advance

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