VODG responds to Transforming Public Procurement consultation

10 March 2021

 VODG has outlined a series of concerns and member representations in a submission to the government’s Green Paper: Transforming Public Procurement consultation.

The Cabinet Office consultation sought views on proposals in the Transforming Public Procurement Green Paper, which are aimed at shaping the future of public procurement in England, including speeding up and simplifying procurement processes.

 The VODG submission was informed by the views of member organisations. Key points raised in the submission, include:

  • There needs to be stronger recognition, and incorporation, of the Care Act’s aspirations in the procurement of care and support services.
  • Proportionality is not included as an underpinning principle of procurement law when it must be a ‘golden thread’ throughout and should be included as a vital principle to guide practice.
  • The proposals need to do more around prohibiting lower priced tendering and poor procurement practices that see disproportionate weighting for price in decision making, above that given to quality and social value, which are fundamental in organising services for people.
  • The proposal to provide training and guidance to procurement practitioners in order to increase skills and knowledge is welcomed in principle. However, this training and guidance will not necessarily equal competence and VODG is concerned that there is procurement practice taking place within care and support services that cannot be fixed by training and guidance, but which instead requires structural reform.
  • In the organising of public services, greater attention, as well investment, should be given to ensuring procurement practitioners (and commissioners) have the knowledge and understanding of the services they are procuring, of the people who will use those services, and of the voluntary sector providers that can deliver.
  • VODG is concerned about the proposal to remove the Light Touch Regime through which many care and support services are procured. The proposed amendments will create a lot of uncertainty around prescribed routes to market, which will be incredibly unhelpful to a sector that is already facing significant challenges. Furthermore, the Light Touch Regime recognises the difference in the procurement of services for people and general commercial procurement and its removal is of significant concern.

Dr Rhidian Hughes, Chief Executive of VODG, said:

“VODG welcomes the opportunity to submit a representation to this consultation.  We support the ambitions around transforming public procurement but are concerned the proposals lack acknowledgment that procurement for public services, or of services for people, is different to that of commercial purchasing and the procurement of goods. This initiative needs to apply across government, including with the reform of social care which needs to be led by the Department of Health and Social Care.

If the government is truly committed to transforming public procurement, then it is vital that the procurement of services for disabled people are person-centred, responsive to need and therefore organised differently to enable people who draw on social care to be involved in procurement processes and in decision making.

“Without genuine transformation, we will continue to see procurement processes that do not take sufficient notice of individual needs or the views of families and carers and which are nothing more than a race to the bottom in terms of price and quality of services to disabled people. VODG hopes the government uses this opportunity to undertake ambitious change in a way that ensures the rights and entitlements of disabled people are met through collaborative and person-centred procurement processes.”

VODG Media Centre