On 5 February 2015, the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/102) were published. These Regulations replace the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. They implement Directive 2014/24 on public procurement and also implement certain measures aimed at ensuring that small businesses have better access to public sector contracts.

On 18 February 2015, the Crown Commercial Service published a Procurement Policy Note on the reforms contained in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, which are intended to make public procurement more accessible to SMEs (Information note 03/15). The note provides an explanation of the new requirements relating to the use of pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) in both below-threshold procurements (PQQs must not be used) and above-threshold contracts (contracting authorities must have regard to any guidance issued by the Cabinet Office on the qualitative selection of economic operators). There is also a requirement for each contracting authority to insert a provision into its contracts for undisputed invoices to be paid within 30 days.  The requirements relating to PQQs and prompt payment will apply to all contracting authorities from 26 February 2015. The other requirements will apply to central government contracting authorities from 26 February 2015 and non-central government contracting authorities including NHS Trusts from 1 April 2015. These reforms apply only to procurements that commence on or after the date on which they take effect. The Regulations will not apply to any contract award procedure commenced before 26 February 2015.

For more information on Public Sector Directive 2014 and UK Public Contracts Regulations 2015 please click here.

The Scottish Government has issued (on 9 February) a consultation on changes to the public procurement rules in Scotland. The changes are required to implement the new EU Procurement Directives. The consultation seeks views on those aspects of the new Directives where the Scottish Government has a choice about whether to, or how best to, implement changes.