At the time of writing (early March 2019), Britain will exit the EU at 23:00 on Friday 29 March. You might also be aware that the Public Procurement Regulations 2015, which are the UK’s transposition of European procurement rules into domestic law, apply to the social housing sector. A no-deal Brexit is currently still a very real possibility and the government is stepping up no-deal preparations.
The government’s Cabinet Office recently published guidance on public-sector procurement after a no-deal Brexit. The guidance states that if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, then the public procurement regulations will remain “broadly” unchanged.
The government will need to amend the current legislation to ensure that it remains “operable and functional on exit”. The procedures will remain exactly the same, with the key difference being that there will be a new UK e-notification service rather than an EU publication service. In layman’s terms, the term OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) will itself disappear but the concept of OJEU will remain and it will become something like (I’m guessing here) ‘UKENS’ (UK e-Notification Service).
Housing providers will still be required to advertise. Those that use e-procurement should check with their procurement software providers that they intend to integrate their software to the new e-notification service. Software providers such as BiP, Proactis and several others have already done so, according to the Cabinet Office, but not all of them have.
Procurements under way before Brexit will need to continue under existing legislation, but the award notices will need to be via the UK e-notification service, not OJEU. The amended regulations will need to be followed from the point of exit.
Housing sector suppliers will need to also make sure that they are aware of this so that they can update their searches for opportunities. Additional information has been published by the EU which confirms that suppliers wishing to tender for EU work will still be able to access OJEU and TED as they can at the moment, although this reassurance is limited to access to opportunities and doesn’t cover any aspects of tariffs or commercial implications.
Chris Cliffe FCIPS MioD is a director of CJC Procurement.