23 September 2020
Amidst the unprecedented challenges facing the UK economy and wider society, experience is showing that where there is strong collaboration between the public and private sectors, the outcomes are better. Innovative public-private partnerships have bolstered efforts to tackle the coronavirus and added capability as well as capacity. Lessons learnt from this period must now be integrated into future partnerships with industry, says the CBI in its latest report.
'Public-partnerships: Lessons from COVID-19' highlights the successes and learnings from case studies of firms stepping up to support the public sector.
Lessons learnt, detailed in the report, show the importance of:
Widening public sector markets
- COVID-19 has shown how a diverse range of industry partners is needed to meet the varied, often specific demands of the public sector. To encourage more businesses, particularly SMEs, to enter partnerships going forwards the Government must make public contracts more accessible and reduce the bureaucracy around supplying the sector.
- The national response to COVID-19 was possible only through quicker procurement processes and reduced red tape. This agility in developing partnerships must continue after the crisis, and the green paper on procurement rules reform expected late 2020 offers a golden opportunity to deliver this.
Building strong relationships with suppliers
- The crisis led to increased collaboration and open dialogue with industry, which has in turn ensured ongoing public sector service provision in the face of the pandemic. Continuing this spirit of cooperation will ensure partnerships deliver innovation and increased value for money long after the crisis.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:
“From supporting NHS capacity in their local community to revamping production lines to meet public need for PPE, firms of all sizes have stepped up as part of the national effort in the fight against COVID-19.
“During this period we have seen agile, innovative approaches to public-private partnerships deliver enormous benefit. As we seek to build back better from the pandemic, this must become the new normal.
“Whether it’s the Ventilator Challenge UK, a consortium of firms which has produced critical NHS ventilators, Lindhurst Engineering’s successful campaign encouraging local firms to donate their unused PPE or the critical public services carried out by Norse Group – it’s clear companies rose to the challenges thrown up by the crisis.
“That is why it is vital these lessons are embedded into broader procurement changes coming down the track, including the upcoming procurement green paper, the next iteration of the Outsourcing Playbook, and the rollout of the new Social Value Framework.”