Make public procurement work for citizens and for business

Make public procurement work for citizens and for business

Public contracting needs a rethink

Procurement, done well, can improve public services and infrastructure, boost innovation and drive prosperity. It ensures the services we all rely on – from refuse collection to major infrastructure like HS2 – are high-quality and future-proofed. But current practices are creating a race to the bottom and bureaucracy is preventing effective partnerships between the public and private sector.

The change we’re calling for

We’re calling on business and government to work together to ensure procurement delivers value for all. To play its part, business must improve corporate practices, bid responsibly and walk away from unsustainable contracts. And government must commit to delivering better outcomes, rather than just cost efficiencies.

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    Implement the new Outsourcing Playbook and Commercial Standards to improve public-private partnerships

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    Put social value at the heart of government contracts to benefit businesses of all sizes and rebuild public trust

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    Incentivise long-term supplier performance by taking a fairer approach to allocating contractual risk, and providing the right level of reward

Why it's needed

How public money is spent defines the success of the UK economy and the quality of services – with business partnerships providing vital investment, expertise and innovation. In fact, in recent years, the public sector has spent more money on contracts than it spends on providing services itself.

But suppliers to government operate in challenging conditions, with almost 40% of businesses rating public procurement as poor or very poor. The government’s current approach to procurement risks creating a culture of short-termism, and an unsustainable marketplace – ultimately putting quality public services and infrastructure in jeopardy.

Looking ahead, government contracting must focus on collaborative partnerships with industry that deliver for the long-term and are centred around genuine value for money – not the cheapest price.

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"At a time when collaboration between sectors is under increasing scrutiny, it is more important than ever that government and business develop better partnerships and boost public confidence in their value. Business cares deeply about the vital role it can play in delivering public services and infrastructure – and it already makes a significant contribution. However, these partnerships need to evolve if they are to be fit for the challenges of the future. In particular, government must work with its suppliers to focus more on long-term value rather than just short-term costs."

Matthew Fell, Chief UK Policy Director, CBI

The value of effective public-private partnerships

Good relationships don't just benefit business

The sheer scale of the market means great partnerships between the public and private sector are vital for the wider economy.

  • government's yearly spend on buying goods and services from external suppliers—almost one third of total public expenditure

  • of CBI members believe that service quality was the main driver of contract awards

  • companies in the UK supply to the public sector, ranging from large multi-national companies to micro-businesses

Our progress and impact

The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business creates prosperity for all. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on this issue.

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Support the change

  1. Are you a business leader?

    Join the CBI

    Our members are our mandate, and the reason we’re the most influential business organisation in the UK. Join the voice of business, and help us campaign to make public procurement work for citizens and for business.

    Find out more
  2. Are you a CBI member?

    Have your say

    Contribute your thoughts and experiences to strengthen the CBI mandate on public procurement, ensuring policies work for your business.

    Get involved
  3. Are you a policymaker?

    Make a difference

    This campaign is led by the CBI's Infrastructure and Energy team.

    Contact Tom Thackray, Director of Infrastructure and Energy, to find out about the progress UK business urgently needs for infrastructure and how you can support the change.

    Contact us