4 March 2019

News

Access to European markets post-Brexit is 'a must' for public services providers

For the UK Government to realise its vision of public procurement as a key driver of economic growth, continued access to European markets must be secured.

Access to European markets post-Brexit is 'a must' for public services providers

Maintaining access to European public procurement markets by avoiding significant divergence from existing EU rules will help UK firms to continue benefitting from a marketplace worth around 1.9 trillion Euros, the CBI says.

While welcoming recent efforts by the Department for International Trade to maintain access to European markets through the WTO, a new CBI briefing paper says the only way to guarantee full access is to remain close to existing EU rules and regulations post-Brexit.

The research – sponsored by Browne Jacobson – also highlights untapped opportunities to tackle numerous challenges faced by UK public service providers unrelated to EU rules, following on from the publication of the UK Government’s Outsourcing Playbook last month.

CBI recommendations to the UK Government include:

Boosting pre-market engagement for large and complex contracts across the public sector.

Promoting a focus on long-term value rather than short-term costs by working with industry to effectively implement a new social value framework for contracts.

Enhancing capability by continuing to improve commercial expertise across public service agencies, and creating multidisciplinary teams focussed on overseeing the end-to-end delivery of key contracts.

Identifying and eradicating contracts where unsustainable risk has been transferred to suppliers.

Piloting a new public procurement tribunal which would sit beneath formal dispute mechanisms to deal fairly and quickly with supplier concerns – and also encourage better access to remedies for SMEs.

Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:

“As the UK leaves the EU, it’s important for UK providers to maintain access to the vast European market for public contracts worth hundreds of billions of pounds.

“Brexit also provides industry with an opportunity to step back and consider the future of outsourcing more broadly. Since the collapse of Carillion the industry has been working closely with the UK Government to ensure the long-term health of public service contracting, which plays a huge and important part in people’s everyday lives, from education to end of life care.

“Following the publication of the UK Government’s Outsourcing Playbook, these new recommendations are aimed at ensuring public-private partnerships continue to deliver high quality public services and infrastructure the country needs. It’s vitally important public service providers can continue to flourish in both the UK and across Europe post-Brexit.”

Peter Ware, Head of the Government & Infrastructure Team at Browne Jacobson, added:

“Whilst there is much to improve and great challenges ahead, this report shows there is a lot to be positive about how the public and private sector work together in this country.

“As well as learning from mistakes it is equally important to celebrate successes and the case studies show some real examples of great partnership working.

“If the recommendations set out in this report can be truly embraced by all the stakeholders in the delivery of public sector contracts, that journey of improvement will be all the more productive for public and private sector alike.”