Brexit Update 2021 for Members
As the transition period ended on the 31st December 2020 at 11pm, the UK has now officially left the EU. In the days leading up to the end of the transition period the UK and EU also agreed a trade deal and their future relationship. This was a positive outcome in that it ensured barriers to trade were reduced, zero tariff agreements were agreed on products crossing borders and subsequently it avoided weakening the economy.
Despite this there is still uncertainty on the long term future of public procurement in the UK. What we do know is that the EU rules will no longer apply, however as the UK is committed to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership, the existing Public Contracts Regulations 2015 that govern public procurement in the UK will continue to apply to above threshold procurements until the regulations are replaced.
Whilst the long term picture remains unclear and we continue to monitor this, there are some more immediate impacts that we know are happening and we have summarised these for our Members as follows:
Imminent consultation for public procurement reform – The Cabinet Office established the Procurement Transformation Advisory Panel in 2019 to lead public procurement reform in the UK. A Green Paper was issued on the 23rd December 2020 outlining the anticipated changes through this reform. This launch of the Green Paper kicked off a 12 week consultation period, Fusion21 is currently reviewing the paper and we will be looking to engage with our Members and Suppliers on the impact of these changes towards the end of January.
Thresholds to continue for now – The thresholds currently in place that govern the value of which contracts must be compliant with Public Contracts Regulations 2015 will continue to apply. This is largely due to the UK’s commitment to the GPA which has thresholds which align with the existing EU thresholds. They are renewed on the same 2 yearly basis (next due for update in January 2022).
Publishing Notices on the new Governments Find a Tender Service – from the New Year there is an obligation to now publish all Notices in the Governments new ‘Find a Tender’ e-notification service as opposed to the existing requirement for publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. Members must note that existing legal or policy requirements to publish on other platforms, such as Contracts Finder, Sell2Wales etc still apply. Furthermore, for any current / ongoing procurements that have been subject to an initial OJEU call-for-competition, Members must ensure that Award Notices are also issued to the Official Journal, even following the end of the transition period. In these instances Members should also issue Award Notices in ‘Find a Tender’ as an additional measure of best practice.
Amendments to the existing PCR’s (The Public Procurement Amendments – EU Exit – Regulations 2020) – the Public Procurement Amendments (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 came into force following the transition period. These regulations confirm amendments to the existing Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and cover minor technical changes only, for example, replacing reference to the European Commission and inserting the Cabinet Office.
Fusion21 members can be assured that all our Procurement Frameworks and Dynamic Purchasing Systems remain compliant with public procurement law and will continue to do so in to 2021 and beyond, offering our members compliance through procurement as well as value for money and measurable social impact.