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Beyond buy-in | How to explain procurement reform to your colleagues, and their role in the changes

We all know that the imminent changes to procurement and commercial practices go way beyond those of us with procurement or commercial in our job titles, but how informed are those in your wider organisation about what’s to come?

We’ve pulled together some information we hope will be useful if you are still in that space of getting buy-in from those outside of your team, and explaining the responsibilities everyone has.

You could use this content in briefings to other departments, newsletters, email etc, if you’ve been tasked with helping your organisation work out what this all means.

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Introduction (if you’re starting from scratch…)

The procurement changes in England and Wales are primarily driven by two key pieces of legislation and associated reforms:

  • Procurement Act 2023 | This legislation is a central part of the procurement reforms in both England and Wales. It is designed to replace the existing EU-based procurement rules with a new, flexible framework specific to the UK. The Procurement Act aims to simplify procurement processes, increase transparency, and ensure better value for money while supporting broader social and environmental objectives.
  • Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act | In Wales, the Welsh Government has introduced an Act that addresses specific Welsh priorities within the broader UK framework. This Act emphasises the integration of social value into procurement decisions, standardises processes across the public sector, and enhances the use of digital procurement platforms. The Social Partnership and Public Procurement (Wales) Act aims to create a more sustainable and community-focused procurement space in Wales.

These legislative changes represent a significant shift in public procurement practices, aiming to make procurement processes more efficient, transparent, and aligned with social and environmental goals.

Aren’t there changes specific to health services in Wales, too?

Yes! The Health Service Procurement (Wales) Act 2024 is a legislative measure designed to reform the way NHS health services are procured in Wales. Key provisions of the Act are:

  • Disapplication Power | This provision allows Welsh Ministers to disapply certain procurement rules established by the UK Government’s Procurement Bill 2023 for the procurement of health services in Wales. This aims to prevent potential disadvantages arising from differing procurement regimes between England and Wales.
  • Creation Power | The Act grants Welsh Ministers the authority to establish a new procurement regime for health services in Wales through subordinate legislation. This is intended to create a procurement process better tailored to the specific needs of the Welsh NHS.

The Act aligns with the Welsh Government’s ‘A Healthier Wales’ strategy, aiming to deliver high-quality, sustainable healthcare.

So what will be different because of reform?

A focus on social value and community benefits | A significant emphasis is placed on integrating social value into procurement decisions. This means public sector contracts should increasingly consider factors like local economic impact, social equity, and environmental sustainability. The changes aim to deliver community benefits, such as job creation, skills development, and environmental improvements, alongside their core services.

Simplified and standardised processes | The reforms aim to reduce bureaucracy, by streamlining and standardising procurement procedures. This includes the introduction of a more uniform set of rules and guidelines, making it easier for businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to compete for public sector contracts; and, the publishing of pipelines (i.e. details about upcoming opportunities to tender, so that suppliers can better prepare and engage in pre-market activities), meaning we all need to look further into the future AND get order on our longer term needs.

Better digital procurement platforms, enhancing transparency and accountability | Wales is investing in digital procurement platforms to improve accessibility and efficiency. These platforms will facilitate easier access to tender opportunities, streamlined submission processes, and better communication between public sector buyers and suppliers. The digital approach also aims to enhance transparency and accountability in procurement activities.

Now I know this, what should I be doing?

To prepare for the procurement changes set for October 2024, you can take several steps to ensure compliance and take full advantage of the new framework:

  1. Take some time to understand the new legislation.
  2. Review and update procurement policies and procedures – are they easy to understand?
  3. Ensure that your procurement strategy incorporates the emphasis on social value, simplified processes, and standardised practices.
  4. Invest in training and capacity building – visit the events section on Cyd.Cymru for all the free-of-charge training and shared learning opportunities available to help your team and organisation.
  5. Take advantage of the digital tools and platforms available.
  6. Communicate with your suppliers and other stakeholders about the upcoming changes and what they mean for your procurement practices.
  7. Set up mechanisms to monitor compliance with the new procurement regulations. Adjust your strategies and processes as needed based on the monitoring

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your organisation is well-prepared for the procurement changes coming into effect in October 2024 – If you still have questions though, speak with your procurement and commercial professionals within your organisation, and take advantage of the learning support, case studies and useful guides available on this website.