Do you maintain an Approved List of Suppliers?

The Procurement Team does not maintain an Approved Lists of Suppliers. All potential suppliers are those who register an interest on the Chest, which allows the councils to advertise their tender opportunities to the widest possible audience of interested suppliers.  It is up to you, as a supplier, to ensure that your company profile on the Chest reflects the type of contract that you would be interested in tendering for.  There are some opportunities to join Dynamic Purchasing Systems, the modern equivalent of 'approved lists of suppliers', but these are open and transparent.  These opportunities are primarily in the field of health and social care.
Services may have a list of suppliers they have done business with before that did a good job, these are not approved lists.

How do I find out when contracts are being tendered by the Council?

All of our opportunities are advertised on the the Chest.  Registration is simple and free and you can browse opportunities for other Contracting Authorities across NW England and further afield.

Why do I have to provide so much information when I submit a tender or register an interest in an advertised opportunity?

All councils and other contracting authorities are public bodies and are audited and accountable for all of their spend. The Council needs to evidence that what they buy is fit for purpose, delivers value for money and that the supplier is reliable and understands the councils’ needs. The Council will only ever ask for the information that is needed.

Isn’t it only big national providers who win council work?

It depends on the value and complexity of the contract and the market for it. During the procurement process, each application is treated equally. The Council, wherever appropriate, makes contracts accessible to Small/Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), the Voluntary & Community Sector (VCSEs), and local businesses of any size.

Why does the process take so long?

There are numerous reasons which impact on the length of the procurement process.  These include timescales set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCRs 2015) (and as amended), the availability of evaluation panel members to assess submitted tenders and requirements of each council’s constitution in terms of approval processes. The Council tries to keep bidders fully informed, publishes the individual procurement timescale in its tender documentation and updates bidders if a delay to the timescale is encountered. If you are unsure about the length of the process then please ask us.

What are the benefits of doing work for a council?

The Council guarantees a fair tender process, with each application treated equally and transparently. The Council has a prompt invoice payment policy and is a reliable customer. Working with public sector buyers also provides a track record to help you win work with other organisations, and where appropriate we will provide references for you to use.

Should I tender a high/low price as there will be opportunity for negotiation, later?

In the majority of cases your submitted price will be your final price. You should tender your best price and ensure it is sustainable for you and for the council. The council aim to be as transparent as possible and you should aim for the same.

Why is everything done electronically?

Tendering is carried out through the council’s eProcurement portal for several reasons.  An electronic process creates efficiencies for the council and for bidders; it ensures that the tender process is fully auditable and the PCRs 2015 (and as amended) prescribe compulsory electronic tendering.  
Additionally there are both cost and environmental benefits to electronic, rather than paper based procurement. If you are struggling with electronic systems then please contact one of the Procurement Team.

What help can you offer?

You can always ask for help, just don’t leave it too late in the tender process. The Council cannot tender on your behalf, but is always on hand to support bidders with the process within the constraints of equal treatment. Always read and follow the instructions for tendering and ask for feedback where you have not been successful. Wherever possible, the Council holds meet the buyer and training events to assist suppliers, or can point you in the direction of existing training and guidance provided by others.

Is it possible to meet with you to discuss our business and what it provides?

In order to maintain equal treatment of all our suppliers, the Council does not meet with potential suppliers. However, the Procurement Team organises Meet the Buyer events on a regular basis and undertakes market engagement exercises for contracts that are complex or where requirements need the input of suppliers. These are notified to the market through advertisement on the Chest in the same way that tenders are advertised.

How do we submit an interest in tendering for a specific contract?

When you have registered as a supplier on the Chest, you are able to formally register an interest in tendering for a specific opportunity when you see it advertised.  Don’t worry if you subsequently do not submit a tender, even if you have registered an interest, as this will not count against you when future opportunities are advertised.  It may be, for instance, that you access the tender documentation after registering an interest and then decide that the opportunity does not match your business offer.

How do you choose which supplier you want?

For individual one-off spends under £5,000: The Council is able to obtain the required goods or services by means of obtaining only one quotation. Such low value requirements are unlikely to be advertised on the Chest and will not necessarily be notified to the Procurement Team.

For individual requirements between £5,000 and £24,999: the Council may use pre-existing framework agreements, search websites and catalogues, or undertake a Request for Quotation exercise which may or may not be advertised on the Chest as an open opportunity.

Requirements between £25,000 and the relevant World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) threshold: The Procurement Team leads the procurement activity. This means dependent upon risks identified and local market conditions, some competitions will be closed to identified local suppliers, whilst other will be openly advertised. Adverts are placed on the Chest and Contracts Finder.
Suppliers interested in providing goods and services should make contact with individual Services within the Council.

Requirements in excess of the GPA thresholds: The Procurement Team leads the activity, and advertises the opportunity on the ChestContracts Finder, and Find a Tender Service (FTS).

Note: Adverts published before the 31st December 2020 can be found in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) not FTS.

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