Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business
I announced in Plenary in March that the Welsh Government would be sharing lessons learned from a series of Demonstration Projects of the Joint Bidding Guide, which I launched in October 2013. Jointly developed by Welsh Government, the Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the Wales Cooperative Centre, the Guide is a practical toolkit offering support to both buyers and suppliers to increase the success of consortium bidding for public sector contracts.
In March I announced that the first contract supported through the pilot study had been awarded to a new consortium. The procurement was for a framework, let by Caerphilly County Borough Council, established to bring housing stock in line with its ongoing Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) Programme. The winning consortium, Allied Construction Consortium Ltd, was set up specifically to bid for this project and was appointed onto the framework. The consortium has now begun work on a £1.1m project.
Eight of the twelve demonstration projects supported by Welsh Government and the Wales Cooperative Centre have now reached their conclusion. Contracts were awarded to consortia in five of these, with the majority being new consortia set up specifically to bid for the contracts.
Carmarthenshire County Council’s project to deliver the Families First programme, designed to integrate family support services, is another great example. New consortia, made up of third sector organisations, have been appointed to deliver both of the lots awarded.
A Lessons Learned report is being published on the Welsh Government’s website today. The report highlights the success of the projects and draws together feedback from both buyers and suppliers on their experiences of advertising and bidding for contracts that encouraged consortium delivery. This useful insight will be shared widely and will help to address the real and perceived risks around consortium bidding.
The refreshed Wales Procurement Policy Statement, published in June, emphasises the importance of making procurement opportunities open and accessible to new bidders, including consortia, and references the Joint Bidding Guide as an important tool available to help achieve this. In the present public sector funding climate it is more important than ever that smaller Wales-based businesses and third sector organisations are able to form consortia and bid for public contracts that would have been too large for each of them to deliver alone.
I am now considering how the Joint Bidding approach can be further strengthened using the regulatory powers granted to the Welsh Government in August.