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How to Tender for Work, Goods and Services

Whether the Council is buying goods, services or work the process is similar. The difference comes in the value of the contract. For example low value contracts (under £5,000) may be informally assessed by email exchanges, but high value contracts (over £50,000), may be subject to European legislation and require highly formalised tender processes.

If you are new to public sector procurement and you would like further information on what is involved when tendering for low, intermediate and high value contracts, please use the links below.

How to tender for lower value contracts (up to £5,000)

The process for lower value contracts is easier than for higher value contracts but the same commitment to fiscal prudence applies. For contracts up to £5,000 the Council’s standing orders state that, although no formal written competitive quotations are necessary, “due regard shall be had in securing competition by verbal enquiry and written confirmation, where appropriate”. The process is much simpler than for medium to higher value contracts but you should still be aware of the stages we will go through before awarding the contract.

Supplying information

After contacting you to see if you are interested in the work, the Council may request some information that will help it choose between quotations. This will vary depending on the nature of the work, but you will be clearly informed of what it is that you need to supply.

Awarding the contract

A decision as to whether or not to use your company will be made on the basis of the ‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender (MEAT). This means that the Council will not necessarily choose the cheapest option but look at other qualities as well. Prior to contacting you, Council officers will have set the criteria by which they will judge quotations. 

Terms and conditions

These will vary according to the type, size and value of contract, but will be clearly stated in either the 'Invitation to Quote' or 'Invitation to Tender' documents.  You can view or download a copy of the Council's basic Terms and Conditions of Purchase here, and which will accompany all orders raised - higher value contracts will be subject to a formal signed contract.

Managing the contract

As part of our continuing commitment to ensure that tax-payers money is being wisely spent, even for low value contracts the Council will monitor your performance and assess your compliance against pre-defined performance criteria (of which you will have been informed).
The Council strives to improve its own performance and consequently has high expectations of its suppliers. Your company must be capable of delivering the contract. The Council applies contract conditions fairly, particularly with regard to quality and performance. Where adverse performance is identified, you will be expected to investigate such shortfalls, feedback on your findings and rectify the situation. Examples of adverse performance might include; poor quality workmanship, regular delivery delays, little control of sub-contractors.

How to tender for intermediate value contracts (£5,000 to £50,000)

For contracts between £5,000 and £50,000, the Council’s standing orders state that officers must obtain at least two (for contracts valued between £5,000 and £30,000) and three (for contracts valued between £30,001 and £50,000) written quotations.  This means that you are likely to be in competition with at least one or two other providers. The various stages in the quotation/tender process are outlined below. However, for contracts at the lower/intermediate end of the range, not all the stages or all the information will necessarily be required – you will be told quite clearly in the advertisement, and in any information that is sent to you, what exactly it is that you need to do.
Checking your viability
Following receipt of the Expression of Interest you may be asked to complete a Standard Selection Questionnaire (SSQ) so that we can satisfy ourselves that you are capable of carrying out the work.  You will be allowed to 'self-declare' on a range of available information, however you should note that if a contract is awarded you will be expected to provide all relevant further information. For high value and/or high risk procurement, this will also include a risk assessment.

Invitation to tender

As part of a two stage procurement process (such as a restricted process) and following receipt of the SSQ a decision will be made by the officers involved in the contract as to whether they wish to invite you to submit a final tender. The Council will normally set the number of shortlisted providers it wishes to take forward to tender. However, if this not prescribed, at least four (where available) will be chosen by the evaluation panel to be invited to tender. Where less than four suitable providers express an interest all will normally be asked to tender.

Supplying information

If you have been selected to tender you will be sent the tender documentation which may contain the following information:-
  • A procurement timetable
  • Financial reference request 
  • Insurance details request
  • Health and safety checklists 
  • Acceptance of the Council's draft contract terms. 
  • A specification that describes clearly the Council’s requirements in sufficient detail to enable the submission of competitive offers. 
  • Pricing mechanism and instructions for completion. 
  • The information you supply will be subject to the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ and you should review these requirements, as contained in the tender documentation.
There will also be supplementary questions specific to the contract. Usually these questions will be the ones that determine whether you have the necessary skills and capacity to fulfil the contract in relation to other firms who may be tendering.
Please note – it is vitally important that you answer all questions. You may contact the project manager through the e-tendering portal to ask supplementary questions or seek clarification, however:-
  • The Council reserves the right not to answer certain questions  
  • There is a requirement to make the answers to any questions available to all shortlisted providers involved in the tendering process, this will be undertaken automatically through the e-tendering portal, keeping anonymity.

Decision making

You must complete and return all the required tender documents by the given time and date.

The Council can only accept tenders that are returned through the e-tendering portal.

Due to the requirements to conduct an open and honest process we cannot accept tenders that arrive late, whatever the reason. Please make sure that you are conversant with the e-tendering portal and how to add your tender return to the portal.  After the receipt date has passed, the tenders are opened and recorded at one time via the e-tendering portal.

Higher value procurement (over £50,000)

When reviewing advertisements in the OJEU or Contracts Finder over the value of £50,000 where a tender has been advertised on an e-portal, the portal will record a 'Noted Interest' maintaining the anonymity of your details, the only individual able to see such details will be the procuring and client officer within the Council. Other than that, the process is similar to that for Intermediate value contracts.

Last updated 25 August 2020

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