Supplier guidance – policies and regulations

Suppliers need to demonstrate their commitment to the policies, regulations and guidelines

Further guidance

E- Procurement

The key elements of our e-Procurement strategy are that:

  • Orders will be sent to suppliers attached to an e-mail in pdf format wherever possible
  • The authority will be working with those suppliers generating large volumes of invoices to move from paper invoices to receiving invoices electronically (probably in in XML format), for automatic uploading into our back office systems. We will be looking at alternative ways of receiving electronic invoices from our smaller suppliers.
  • Payments will be made electronically to suppliers via BACS transfer whenever possible.
  • Remittance advice notes will be sent to suppliers electronically whenever possible
  • We will be introducing Procurement Cards (which function in the same way as an individual’s credit card) for ad hoc and on the road type purchases from 1st April 2006. Suppliers currently able to accept VISA credit card transactions should be able to take payment using a WCC procurement card.

Suppliers will be approached to provide the information necessary to implement our e-Procurement strategy prior to receiving electronic orders or electronic remittances. Any existing suppliers wishing to commence electronic trading with WCC now, can get more information and download the necessary forms by clicking on the link below.

Electronic trading application (msword, 71Kb)

E readiness of suppliers

The County Procurement Unit is currently researching into the ‘e’ readiness of local business. We are keen to find out details about how you carry out business at the moment and what training you would need to be able to carry out e-trading with us.

If you are a local supplier then please fill out our and either e-mail or send it to our address.

E-procurement questionnaire (msword, 83Kb)

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We are seeking to:

  • Deliver contracts in a way which is non-discriminatory and promotes equality of opportunity;
  • Ensure that contractors deliver goods, works and services that cater for all users’ needs, particularly those users who need our services most;
  • Ensure that there is no difference in the satisfaction rates of users or employees, on the basis of race, age, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation;
  • Encourage contractors to promote equality of opportunity beyond the scope of the contract.

A large proportion of our work is put out to tender and it is important that the suppliers awarded these contracts can demonstrate the same level of commitment to equality as we do. This commitment should be demonstrated in their delivery of services and in their own employment practices.

It is our policy to include equality issues in the contracting process, by taking the following steps:

  • Ensuring that contractors, suppliers, volunteers and partners are aware of our position on equality and are clear about their obligation to provide services that are free from discrimination, harassment or victimization.
  • Recognising and promoting the application of the Commission for Racial Equality and Local Government Association guidelines on Race Equality and Public Procurement, in line with our own contracting procedures.
  • Making sure that our selection and tendering processes positively address and include equality considerations.

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All our employees have a duty to Council Tax payers when they are spending the Council’s money. They must spend it wisely and ensure that spending is lawful, necessary and reasonable. We expect our suppliers to be aware of and respect these ethics and follow them when acting on behalf of the County Council.

The following points are issues applicable to all procurement and contracting activity:

  • Declaration of interest – our staff must declare to the manager of their department any interests they have in a procurement process which could conflict with the Councils interests or affect their judgement as our employee. Such interests may be financial, business related, ownership of property, family interests, membership of external bodies or any other factor that could be construed as a personal interest.
  • Confidentiality and accuracy of information – The confidentiality of information received in the course of a procurement process should be respected and should never be used for personal gain.
  • Business gifts – Business gifts, other than items of very small intrinsic value such as business diaries or calendars, should not be offered.
  • Hospitality – As a rule, Council employees have to make sure that they justify any hospitality received in connection with work as being in the public interest. Any gift or invitation for hospitality will be recorded in a departmental hospitality record. Any refusal of hospitality will also be recorded.
  • Use of discount arrangements – Employees must not take personal advantage of any discount arrangements with suppliers unless special arrangements have been made for all our employees.
  • By agreeing to work for or supply to us it is expected that suppliers and contractors will adopt the principles of the our Public Interest Reporting Code.

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Fair Trade

We support the principle of international Fairtrade, which aims to improve the livelihood and well being of excluded and disadvantaged producers by providing better trading conditions and awareness raising. We will promote and encourage the use of fair or ethically traded goods where appropriate wherever this is within the our legal powers to do so.

Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar is offered by County Caterers at meetings, events and in Staff catering facilities.

So What is Fairtrade?

The Fairtrade mark gives 5 guarantees:

  • Farmers get a fair and stable price for their products
  • Farmers and estate workers are guaranteed extra income to improve their lives
  • Greater respect for the environment
  • Small farmers are guaranteed a stronger position in world markets
  • Closer links between consumers and producers

If you would like to know more, visit the Fairtrade website.

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Freedom of Information

Information in relation to tenders may be made available on demand in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Tenderers should state if any of the information supplied by them is confidential or commercially sensitive or should not be disclosed in response to a request for information under the Act. Tenderers should state why they consider the information to be confidential or commercially sensitive.

This will not guarantee that the information will not be disclosed but the stated reasons will be examined in light of the exemptions provided for in the Act. Nevertheless, the final decision on whether information shall be disclosed rests with us.

It is important to note that information may be commercially sensitive for a time (e.g. during a tender process) but afterwards it may not be. The timing of any request for information may be extremely important in determining whether or not information is exempt. However, Tenderers should note that very little, if any, information is likely to be regarded as exempt forever.

In tendering for any contract let by ourselves, Tenderers are thereby acknowledging and accepting the Council’s right, at its sole discretion, routinely to publish and to make publicly available general information concerning a contract, including: a brief description of the subject matter of the contract; its duration; the identity of the successful contractor; and the total contract value. For the purposes of clarification, however, we are not under any obligation routinely to publish any information concerning a contract except as required by law.

Further information on Freedom of Information

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Genetically Modified (GM) Food Policy

In recognition of the widespread public concern in Warwickshire about the safety of GM crops and foods, WCC has adopted a precautionary in relation to the procurement of genetically modified products and will:

  • Exclude from supply all products required to be labelled as containing Genetically Modified Organisms.
  • Not knowingly purchase or serve GM products.
  • Require all suppliers to WCC to take all reasonable steps to ensure all products supplied are GM free.

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Health and Safety

When expressing an interest to tender you will normally be asked for details of your Health and Safety policies and procedures. You must also submit a copy of your Health and Safety Policy as required by Section 2 (3) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and any codes of safe work practices and risk assessments issued to employees. For low value/low risk contracts we have developed a Health and Safety Checklist which will be included in our standard tender pack.

Tender Health and Safety checklist (pdf, 25Kb)

Additional questions concerning Construction Design and Management Regulations (1994) may also be asked by the Council where appropriate.

Health and Safety practices will be keenly monitored by the Council during the life of a contract. Breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other examples of poor practice will be considered as grounds for termination of a contract.

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Suppliers are usually asked to arrange and maintain the following insurance.

In all cases:

  • Public liability insurance – at least £5million.

If necessary:

  • Product liability insurance – at least £5 million.
  • Professional indemnity cover- normally £2million.
  • Employer’s liability insurance – at least £5 million (as required by law). Many insurance policies automatically provide £10m.
  • Motor policy for physical injuries – unlimited.
  • Motor policy for property damage – at least £5 million.

Our insurers have recommended these limits to make sure that we are protected properly. In some cases these levels may be reduced but only in exceptional circumstances. Suppliers’ will be asked for a copy of their insurance certificates before entering into the contract.

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National Procurement Strategy

National procurement strategy (pdf, 363Kb)

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Performance Management

Particularly when using output specifications we will establish on-going performance management arrangements as part of any contract. We will work with our suppliers to agree how performance management information is collected and the frequency at which performance is reviewed. The performance Management issues to be considered are likely to include:

  • What outputs/outcomes, the key performance measures will cover.
  • What the performance measures should be, including targets for continuous improvement.
  • At what frequency information will be gathered.
  • At what frequency performance will be reviewed.
  • Who will collect the performance data – it is becoming increasingly commonplace that the onus for the collection of data is placed on the supplier/provider.
  • How poor performance will be managed.

Although the specification will suggest performance management measures, we understand that for performance management arrangements to be effective, the successful supplier needs engaging fully in the process. We will expect suppliers to be involved in discussions and the agreement of the final performance management framework.

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Public Interest Reporting Code

We are committed to the highest possible standards of openness, probity and accountability. In line with that commitment we encourage employees and others with serious and reasonably held concerns about malpractice within the Council to come forward and voice these concerns. The Public Interest Reporting Code outlines how the we will deal with any concerns and provides assurances to individuals that they themselves will not be victimised or harassed for raising any concerns they may have – unless of course the concerns were raised maliciously and subsequently prove to have no substance.

Although designed primarily for members of staff, the Code applies equally to suppliers and contractors to the County Council. By agreeing to work for or supply to us it is expected that suppliers and contractors will adopt the principles of the code and report any concerns they or any of their employees may have to one of the designated Council officers (full details of who to contact are included in the Code) in a timely manner

Public interest reporting (pdf, 24Kb)

Further details on either the code or its application can be obtained from the County Human Resources Department telephone number 01926 410410.

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Risk Management

We have a corporate approach to the management of procurement risk based on the Prince II project management methodology. We will consider risk in the following areas:

  1. Strategic/commercial risk (e.g. under-performance, collapse of contractors)
  2. Economic/financial/market risk (e.g. inflation, shortage of working capital)
  3. Law and regulatory risk (e.g. new legislation, loss of intellectual property rights)
  4. Organisational /management/human factors (e.g. lack of support, poor processes)
  5. Political risk (e.g. change in policy, adverse media)
  6. Environmental risk (e.g. site contamination, transport problems)
  7. Technical/operational/infrastructure risk (e.g. performance failure, lack of business continuity)

We expect suppliers to help us reduce these risks where possible and we may expect the supplier to accept or share the risk.

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Supporting local and small businesses

Many local and smaller businesses lack awareness of the our procurement process, have misconceptions that contracts are awarded on lowest price alone, consider us to have a “preferred list” of suppliers, and lack awareness of the issues relating to ‘e’ procurement. We have a corporate objective to:

“Develop and maintain a vibrant local economy which promotes employment and prosperity for all.”

Our Procurement Unit are supporting this by:

  • Ensuring that consideration is given to SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises) when creating the E-Procurement strategy
  • Ensuring that all tenders have evaluation criteria so that there is consideration of factors other than lowest price alone
  • Ensuring that all invitation to tender documents contain at least one key contact point
  • Offering constructive debriefing to all those who compete for contracts in order to help them become more competitive in the future
  • Undertaking an analysis of current our business with local companies
  • Providing Information on the our Procurement Web pages, including all Contracts, current Public Notices and key contacts at the Council
  • Support for “Meet the Buyers” and other outreach events
  • Collaborative procurement with other public bodies to capture more local business

For business support and details of local initiatives please visit our business advice pages.

Local Companies and ‘e’ readiness

Our Procurement Unit is currently researching into the ‘e’ readiness of local business. We are keen to find out details of how you carry out business at the moment and what training you would need to be able to carry out ‘e’ procurement with us.

If you are a local supplier then please fill out our e-procurement questionnaire and either e-mail or send it to our address.

E-procurement questionnaire (msword, 83Kb)

Small Business Friendly Concordat

We have adopted the Small Business Friendly Concordat. The purpose of the Concordat is to set out what small firms and others supplying Local Government can expect when tendering for our contracts, and also the standards that public sector buyers should expect from their suppliers.

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Sustainable Procurement

The Sustainable Procurement Task Force published a National Action Plan Procuring the Future in June 2006, making key recommendations for public bodies and including a Flexible Framework against which to assess progress. Procuring the Future defined Sustainable Procurement as:

“a process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organisation, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimising damage to the environment.”

What we’ve done so far

We recognise that our own environmental influence extends well beyond our own staff and workplaces, and take very seriously the impact of our procurement activities on the environment. In 2005 we adopted an environmental procurement policy and strategy designed to address areas of high impact and increase the efficiency with which we use resources in order to reduce detrimental environmental impact. Our work to achieve the Strategy targets has established Warwickshire as an instrumental authority in the ongoing development of sustainable procurement, speaking at national seminars and sitting on a panel led by the Improvement and Development Agency to draft a Local Government response to Procuring the Future.

Environment procurement policy (pdf, 13Kb)

We have received national recognition for our work, winning the 2006 Government Opportunities Award for Greatest Procurement Contribution to the Environmental, Social and Sustainability Agenda.

The judging panel were impressed by our “professional and wholehearted approach to environmentally sound procurement. The results of this approach made for impressive reading and included acquiring 94% of electricity needs from renewable sources. This winning entry has demonstrated effective collaboration and communication with a range of stakeholders including suppliers and the public”

Later that same year our Sustainable Procurement work was short-listed for the Society Of Procurement Officers in Local Government annual awards, and received a commendation for Outstanding Achievement in Procurement.

Helping you to help us

Without the support of our suppliers our efforts may achieve little so we need your commitment to share in a more sustainable approach, reviewing your own practices and promoting environmental principles throughout your own supply chain. We understand that for some suppliers this may seem a daunting proposition but help is available.

Environmental Support for Business is a free services with advice for Warwickshire businesses; suppliers based in other counties are advised to seek similar help from their own local council.

Small businesses can find advice on their environmental responsibility by going to the NetRegs website developed by the Environmental Agency. The website provides clear and comprehensive web-based guidelines for businesses on how to comply with the environmental legislation that affects them. NetRegs is free and there is no need to register. There are four main areas on the site Management Guidelines, Sector Guidelines, Legislation and More Resources. The site does not cover all environmental legislation which exists in the UK but focuses on the key pieces of legislation affecting most businesses. In addition to current legislation the site will also cover forthcoming legislation.

We trade with a wide variety of suppliers, from large public companies to small and medium sized enterprises, the community sector (voluntary and social enterprises) and sole traders. In order to embrace all the principles of Sustainable Procurement we need to take into consideration the social and economic impacts of the money we spend, which can come into play through both our primary and secondary supply chain.

We recognise that smaller businesses can sometimes find it more difficult to participate in the our procurement process.

For more information on what we’re doing on the social and economic aspects see Trading with the Third Sector

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Trading with the Third Sector

Truly sustainable procurement encompasses social and economic issues in addition to the more familiar environmental focus. We believe that engaging with Third Sector suppliers for the delivery of supplies, works and services can help us realise the social and economic benefits that procurement offers to the community.

What is a Third Sector Organisation (TSO)?

There are numerous definitions of a third sector organisation but our interpretation is:

  • a non-public body ie not directly controlled by the state
  • can be grant funded and/or generate income
  • can be a charity, a social enterprise, a voluntary or community group
  • can be unincorporated or incorporated eg a Community Interest Company
  • is value driven – primarily motivated by a desire to further social, environmental or cultural objectives
  • can engage in trading activities ie supply of services to meet objectives
  • non-profit making, but may make a surplus which is re-invested to further trading activities and/or to meet the organisation’s social, environmental or cultural objectives.

What we’ve done so far

We have adopted the Small Business Friendly Concordat. The purpose of the Concordat is to set out what small firms and others supplying Local Government can expect when tendering for Local Authority contracts, and also the standards that public sector buyers should expect from their suppliers.

We are a member of the Warwickshire Compact which aims to improve working relations by setting out the principles and standards that public agencies and voluntary and community organisations can expect of each other, when working in partnership for the benefit of local people.

We have published a Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy determining how we will work more effectively with the VCS, including contracting for service delivery.

Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy (pdf, 11Kb)

In February 2010 we launched our first Third Sector Commissioning and Procurement Strategy. We are working with Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action, providing training to Third Sector organisations to develop their knowledge and understanding of public procurement processes, and better tendering skills. Please go to Warwickshire CAVA for future training dates and to reserve your place.

Third Sector Procurement Strategy (pfd, 35Kb)

Tender training for Third Sector providers is in two stages. Stage 1 is Introductory, and Stage 2 is a Tendering Workshop:

Training for Third Sector Providers Stage 1 (msppoint, 713Kb)

Training for Third Sector Providers Stage 2 (msppoint, 550Kb)

Guide to help Social Enterprises win public sector contracts

A guide ‘Working with the Public Sector: Busting the Myths’ has been produced by The Social Enterprise Coalition in partnership with Antony Collins Solicitors. The guide looks at the most commonly-held but mistaken beliefs about procurement, market engagement and localism.

Working with the public sector: Busting the myths (pdf, 721Kb)

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Supplier guidance – policies and regulations was last updated on August 29, 2013.