Why this toolkit?

This toolkit is a resource for procurement and commissioning professionals and others in service delivery, programme and project management roles. It is about making best use of the Public Contracts Regulations  2015 (PCR 2015) – the EU procurement rules – to deliver council objectives.

Councils in England are facing an unprecedented set of challenges and leadership by councillors and senior managers has never been more important than now.

The drive to provide better outcomes for citizens in key public services and to promote local economic growth must continue at the same time as realising savings on a very large scale.

As a consequence, public services are being ‘rewired' and innovative new models of service delivery are being developed (‘commercialisation').

This includes the devolution of further responsibilities to the local level, increased integration of services across health and social care and beyond and the creation of vehicles for trading and income generation.

The toolkit provides information on the PCR 2015 which is intended to help councils and their partners respond boldly to the challenges which lie ahead. It highlights new opportunities and flexibilities introduced by recent changes to the rules including the availability of new procurement routes.

Procurement and commissioning

Knowledge of the PCR 2015 is a core competence for procurement and commissioning professionals.

The toolkit provides practical information on how to use the new EU rules to achieve council objectives without being legalistic.

Service delivery, programme and project management 

Professionals in service delivery, programme and project management roles have an occasional need to know about the EU procurement rules.

The toolkit format allows professionals in these areas to familiarise themselves with the relevant rules (e.g. procurement routes for major projects) as and when they need to know.
The PCR 2015 were introduced following a reform of the EU rules in 2014. The reform was undertaken with a number of objectives in mind:

  • Simplify the rules for bidders and contracting authorities and make them more flexible
  • Enable ‘strategic' use of public procurement (delivering social and environmental objectives, supporting SMEs, stimulating innovation)
  • Incorporate European case law (exclusion of ‘in house' contracts between public bodies, limits on changes to contracts)
  • Introduce stronger measures on conflicts of interest, procurement fraud and corruption etc.

The reformed procurement rules are not a panacea. But there have been significant improvements which councils can take advantage of. These are explained in the sections which follow.

The toolkit has been produced to support implementation of the National Procurement Strategy for Local Government

in England 2014 and the modernisation theme in particular. It is accompanied by a short guide containing key messages for councillors and senior managers.

Note that the information provided in this toolkit is intended to be only a general guide to the opportunities presented by the PCR 2015. It is not legal advice. Councils should take their own legal advice.