The NFU believes that the government’s public procurement policies create an opportunity to utilise public spending to invest in the national economy, the environment, and the health of consumers and communities who supply the country’s food.
Yesterday Her Majesty the Queen, outlined in Parliament a new Procurement Bill which intends to:
- Reform the UK’s public procurement regime, making it quicker, simpler, and better able to meet the country’s needs while remaining compliant with our international obligations.
- Make public procurement more accessible for new entrants such as small businesses and voluntary, charitable and social enterprises to compete for and win public contracts.
We welcome a renewed approach to public procurement and hopes future legislation will enable more inward investment in our sector, its standards, and values.
As stated in our Levelling up Rural Britain report, public sector food procurement can reconnect people with their diets and ensure everyone can eat great British food, regardless of where they live or their income.
Championing British food
Serving more local British food in our hospitals and schools would be a huge vote of support for British food and farming.
Public sector food procurement can allow citizens to eat healthier, more environmentally sustainable food produced by British producers and suppliers while ensuring public money is spent on protecting public values.
We welcome the Bill and continue to urge the government to use public procurement to champion British food and British food standards in our schools, hospitals, armed forces and across other public bodies.
We particularly welcome the following measures which the Bill is seeking to address:
- Enshrining in law the principles of public procurement such as value for money, public benefit, transparency, integrity, fair treatment of suppliers and non- discrimination.
- Overhauling the complex and inflexible procurement procedures.
- Requiring buyers to have regard to the government’s strategic priorities.
- Establishing a single data platform for supplier registration.
- Tackling unacceptable behaviour such as supplier fraud.
- Reforming the process for challenging procurement decisions.
The Bill follows a consultation period which we responded to in March – read our (member-only access) response Transforming Public Procurement.
The importance of monitoring
However, we further urge government to look at how they can address data collection, auditing, and monitoring of the sector.
Any future legislation should aim at increasing the amount of high-quality, sustainable British food being served. government must be ambitious in its commitment to source from British food producers and should maximise the current policy discussions and opportunities to address current challenges within the sector.