What will the General Election mean for The Procurement Act (PA23)?

As we enter a pre-election period until July 4th, can we book our summer holidays early, or will it be business as usual for public sector procurement?

Perhaps we should hold off on pressing that ‘book now’ button for a little longer…

While we all know that general elections tend to impact certain public procurements, in the backdrop of the recently legislated PA23, there are some additional considerations for bidding professionals.

Pre-Election Period

Despite there being no legal constraints on Government departments' activities during the pre-election period, they’re advised to exercise caution to minimise the risk of objections based on the notion that decisions have been made politically, rather than on their value.

We may also see some hesitancy in Award Notices being published for recent contracts. Where customers are unsure of their limitations they might retract procurements at evaluation stage completely or disband future planned procurements to revisit their options strategically.

All of that said, past experience tells us that devolved tenders from combined authorities, and in the devolved nations, are seemingly much less affected and on occasion, an election can cause an increase in local tenders put to market in specific service sectors or regions of the UK.

Look out for:

Changing volume of tenders in your pipeline. Over the past three general elections, tracked tender quantities show that central government procurements tend to decrease slightly as only business critical or non-contentious projects are put to market. Local Authorities might push through business-critical projects before July 4th, causing timelines to be brought forward. For example, while executive agencies are not legally restricted from signing contracts during this period, they are forbidden from engaging in 'large or contentious contracts'.

Customer decision making and cancelled procurements. Our customers might not be able to progress decisions on projects that support or are affiliated with a specific party policy or political aspiration. This means that decisions on appointment for projects that might be viewed as such, will likely be delayed or cancelled, resulting in a procurement potentially being completely cancelled and re-issued.

At the time of writing The Procurement Act 2023 is already in legislation, so we should continue to plan for the new regime to go live on 28 October 2024.

Whitehall are continuing with plans to launch planned training and provide insights on the new Act for procurement professionals. This includes initiatives like the Deep Dive courses through Government Commercial College and market guidance around sector specific contracts. However, while the process to prepare for launch will continue under the current government, there is always a chance that wider political change may impact the implementation of PA23.

Prepare to act

Changes to timelines for either side of PA23 for strategic reasons

An earlier General Election may now limit the ability of central government departments to start procurements identified strategically to go out before the PA23/24 implementation date to fall within the current regime. 

Stay informed about the transitional arrangements made for the Procurement Act. Where a contract is in procurement prior to the implementation date, our customers will need to apply the old regime until that contract has terminated.

For example, where a 10-year contract is signed just prior to implementation, it should be reasonably expected that extensions or variations to it will still fall under Regulation 72 PCR 2015 in 2034.

Be aware

Changes to timelines for the launch of PA23

The launch itself might be of differing priority to a new Government keener to make a start on promises made during summer campaigns.

Continue learning about PA23 and its regulations in detail by keeping up to date with any APMP announcements, attending central governments Deep Dive sessions and checking communities like LinkedIn for current insights on how it’s impacting wider businesses.

Paying specific attention to how any delay might impact your market sectors will be particularly important given nature of type of sector activity prioritised in the build up to the General Election.

Stay updated!

Alterations to PA23, either immediately or over time

Over time and more likely with new leadership, even any small changes or challenges to the signed legislation might cause further delays to the launch of PA23.

Naturally alterations aren’t necessarily dependent on which party wins the General Election, although any changes are more likely under a new government or newly formed coalitions.

Keep an eye to party manifestos as they’re released. These will provide an indication of their top priorities and any sectors, markets or specific procurements that might be impacted or created by that party’s policy commitments.

How can bidding professionals prepare?

  1. Speak with your customers as and when possible, to understand how the current situation is affecting them.
  2. Assess and monitor your pipeline on the basis of this new information.
  3. Manage timelines and resource around any potential pipeline movement

We would love to hear from you.

How do you think PA23 and any ripple effects from the General Election will affect you and your bidding teams in the next few months?

Let us know through our dedicated Procurement Focus Group on LinkedIn!

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