May 23, 2024
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To Brexit and beyond

CFP’s Sandy Boxall takes a look at the first days of Brexit and what the end of the transition period means for HMG tendering portals

As something of a news junkie, I’m all in favour of an ever-changing stream of bulletins and broadcasts but the start of 2021, not to mention pretty much the whole of last year, has taken things to a whole other level.

The recent shocking scenes in Washington, DC, together with the tragic and intensifying Covid-19 crisis have done what many thought would be impossible and knocked Brexit off the front pages.

But while most attention has rightly been focused on events elsewhere, the reality of the UK leaving the European Union is beginning to surface on social media and it can only be a matter of time before such stories edge back into the spotlight.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The end of the transition period meant that 31 December, 2020 was no normal New Year’s Eve – even without the grim pandemic-shaped reality we’re all enduring. The UK and its constellation of businesses large and small are now attempting to baby step into a very different world, one where seamless, friction-free trade with the EU has been replaced by a tsunami of red tape and administration that has left even the largest of organisations struggling to cope.

Procurement practicalities

As you might expect, the sheer scale of the changes, all signed off in the deal which was agreed on Christmas Eve, also extend to government procurement rules. For example, From 1 January 2021, the new e-tender service ‘Find a Tender’ replaced the Official Journal of the European Union in the UK for high value, above threshold tenders. However, the good news is that the existing UK government portals – Contracts Finder, Public Contracts Scotland, Sell2Wales and eTendersNI – remain in operation and will be unchanged, at least for now.

While there will be no immediate changes to procurement policies, the government now has the power to introduce new or temporary legislation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see policymakers try and strengthen opportunities for SMEs, with lower value (below threshold) tenders potentially being reserved for SMEs or regionally based firms. Watch this space.

Action stations?

So what do you and your organisations need to do now? At this point nothing. The team at Contract Finder Pro has been working hard to ensure that our customers see no break in service and have up to the minute tender information and market analysis tools. We’ve prepared the required technology and processes and everything will carry on as normal – you’ll see no break in service and we’ll keep you up to date with anything new that emerges. 

It’s also important to remember that although there has been no sweeping changes, there is no guarantee that the status quo will endure in perpetuity. Although they have to stay within the remit of the trade deal, policymakers now have the opportunity to reshape procurement rules in the weeks and months ahead.

To borrow from another government slogan, “Stay alert” seems like a good mindset to adopt as we all navigate our way in this new world.