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Spring Statement 2019

Red briefcase

The Chancellor has today delivered his Spring Statement. Against the background of continued uncertainty around the UK’s departure from the EU, what will probably be seen as the main message of the Statement is that the Chancellor’s so-called ‘war chest’ of around £26.6bn is earmarked for preparations for a ‘no-deal Brexit.’

If the possibility of a ‘no deal’ exit is removed with the EU’s agreement, it will free up a significant amount of money to be spent in areas such as healthcare and education. However, as our last update noted, ‘no deal’ remains very much a possibility, in spite of this week’s parliamentary vote.

If a Brexit deal is agreed, the Chancellor has committed to a full, three-year spending review before Parliament’s summer recess, ahead of the next budget.

We look at a few other key announcements from the Statement below.

Housing & construction

The Government has made up to £3bn available to housing associations in England, through the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme, to support delivery of around 30,000 affordable homes.

In addition, £717m is earmarked for constructing 37,000 homes in London, the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and Cheshire.

The Chancellor also said that a National Infrastructure Strategy will be published along with the Autumn Budget.

For more on the implications of the Statement for the construction industry, see the latest Construction Online update.

Local areas

Alongside the above-mentioned areas for housing development, the Statement announces up to £260m for the Borderlands region, which comprises which comprises Dumfries and Galloway, the Scottish Borders, Northumberland, Cumbria and Carlisle City. There will also be £60m of investment in ten cities and local areas across England, from the ‘Transforming Cities Fund.’

Technology & innovation

While the major news in terms of technology may be around the Government’s planned reviews of digital advertising and the dominance of ‘tech giants’, there were announcements in other areas too, with over £200m earmarked for science and innovation projects. Major funding has been granted for state-of-the-art laser technology projects in Oxfordshire, genomics research and industry in Cambridge, and £79m for a supercomputer to be developed in Edinburgh.

Skills & jobs

The last Budget included updates to apprenticeship reforms. These mean that, from 1st April, employers will see the co-investment rate they pay reduced from 10% to 5%, while levy-paying employers are “able to share more levy funds across their supply chains”, with the maximum amount rising from 10% to 25%.

The Chancellor also reiterated that the previously-announced £37bn National Productivity Investment Fund, covering areas such as roads, the rail network and full-fibre networks, will help boost productivity.

Sustainability & environment

Sustainability and efficiency are one of the major areas of focus in the Statement, with the Chancellor pledging to increase the amount of ‘green gas’ in the National Grid. Additionally, from 2025, all new homes will be ‘future-proofed’ with low carbon heating, as opposed to fossil fuel-based heating systems.

The Statement also announced a ‘call for evidence’ specifically focusing on the benefits of energy efficiency and carbon reduction for SMEs. The results of this will lead to SME-specific investment commitments.

New digital paths for health, work and business a major focus within the NHS Long Term Plan

Hospital working working on tablet computer

Earlier this month, the NHS published its Long Term Plan. The Plan details how the £20.5 billion budget settlement for the NHS, confirmed in the summer of last year, will be spent over the next five years.

For patients, the Plan focuses on delivering ‘the best start in life’ for everyone, community health, and allowing people to age well. From the perspective of the NHS itself, the Plan will focus on driving efficiency, both in terms of organisation and affording individual workers easier and more effective working practices.

A major focus of the Plan concerns digital transformation. This will include such innovations as the NHS App, allowing for a single way for patients to identify themselves across a range of local and national services.

Associated apps and digital solutions will no doubt be embraced wholeheartedly by a range of NHS institutions, as a recent iGov Survey found that 72% of respondents from the NHS would like to deliver patient health apps as part of their Wi-Fi solution, while more than two-thirds stated that patient access to online appointment bookings will be beneficial.

At BiP Solutions, we recognise both the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation facing healthcare buyers and suppliers today.

In fact, our most recent report considered the digital trends and innovative approaches playing a significant role in today’s NHS through boosting efficiencies and, crucially, saving lives. You can access a complimentary copy here.

It’s no secret that the NHS is a hugely complex organisation, with hundreds of separate but connected organisations, and navigating the ways they link, share information and work together can sometimes be difficult for NHS staff, let alone those seeking to work with NHS trusts. The digital transformation element of the Long Term Plan promises to ease the burden of the NHS’ complexity for patients and staff.

If you’re looking to cut through the difficulties of understanding how NHS organisations are related and talk to the right person to do business with, BiP Solutions’ Ingenium community can help. Our data community holds contact details for all senior decision-makers throughout the NHS, which we combine with a deep understanding of the NHS’ structure to deliver relevant and engaging digital marketing campaigns.

The Long Term Plan will reshape many NHS working practices, the ways patients interact with the NHS, and the way that business is done too. For businesses, it’ll therefore be important to keep up-to-date with the latest developments, as changes are set to happen throughout the NHS supply chain. An easy way for businesses to ensure they’re staying abreast of the latest changes is through Tracker’s business intelligence modules which offer an easy one-stop, complete source of information on public sector procurement.

Additionally, a major element of the Plan’s overhaul of working methods will be further innovations in terms of technology and equipment needed. For example, the Plan’s stated aims include new ways of managing and storing data, as well as novel methods of treating patients and providing care. With innovation a primary concern, it’s important that businesses are able to join conversations with NHS buyers earlier, to ensure that they can gain a real understanding of the requirement – or even shape discussion about the solution needed.

In fact, Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer and Non-Executive Director at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), said at our recent Procurex Scotland event that “early engagement is absolutely crucial.” He also noted that both buyers and suppliers should be encouraged to engage earlier to get the best out of a procurement exercise:

“If we don’t engage with the market, we won’t understand what the market can offer or what suppliers have developed for a different buyer elsewhere in the country. If we do not talk to suppliers then we miss out on opportunities and we will end up trying to procure something that they may not be able to deliver.”

How we can help

As mentioned before, Ingenium can put businesses in touch with key NHS stakeholders ahead of the tender process, helping conversations happen earlier.

Additionally, Tracker aids early engagement, thanks to easy viewing of upcoming contract renewals and recurring projects through ‘Market Leads’, meaning businesses can discuss these needs ahead of tender publication. Meanwhile, Tracker’s ‘Spend Analysis’ allows for an overview of what organisations are spending and with whom – helping businesses to shape future discussions by understanding how individual NHS trusts spend and work.

The transformation of the NHS via the Long Term Plan looks set to radically overhaul the way that the NHS, patients and businesses interact. We look forward to working digitally together with the NHS as the Plan unfolds.

Further reading

View the Long Term Plan here.

Access our latest Healthcare market report here.

To find out more about our solutions, please visit: www.bipsolutions.com

Autumn Statement Procurement Top Tips

Autumn Statement

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s recent Autumn Statement offered new routes to leveraging business growth. Here, BiP Solutions journalist Julie Shennan gives 5 top tips for procurement actions to optimise your Autumn Statement opportunities.

With £23 billion of additional government spending pledged in Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s recent Autumn Statement via the new National Productivity Investment Fund, fresh pipelines of work have been outlined in areas such as infrastructure, housing, transport, defence, exports, R&D, oil and gas, communications and media.

Whatever your business sector, the Autumn Statement contains information that you can leverage to cut costs and open up new business opportunities. Here are 5 top tips for post-Autumn Statement good procurement practice.

1. Browse Business Breaks

Every year the Chancellor of the Exchequer gives business financial breaks via the likes of Corporation Tax cuts and business rates relief. These breaks often come with caveats that make them applicable to some businesses but not others; however, it is worth checking if your business qualifies so you can adjust your budget.

Also worth noting is that with each business break there usually comes a time frame for its implementation or a time limit on its duration. For example, in his Autumn Statement 2016 Mr Hammond pledged to cut Corporation Tax to 17% by 2020, suggesting that it may drop incrementally over the next few years.

2. Find Funding

Likewise, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement often announces funding opportunities for UK business growth, to stimulate things like innovation, local economies and overseas trade. This year the Chancellor pledged £400 million through the British Business Bank to invest in innovative small businesses with potential for growth.

Now that these funding opportunities have been announced, businesses that qualify and are interested should waste no time in contacting the British Business Bank to start their application. Fortune favours the brave, and awarding bodies will not knock on doors offering funding.

3. Utilise U-Turns

Just as suppliers should be diligent in checking the recent Autumn Statement for relevant new announcements, they should also check it for any U-turns on business breaks or funding pledged in previous years.

Each year brings new circumstances and challenges that can force policy U-turns, not least when there has been a change of government. Yet one supplier’s curse is often another supplier’s blessing as the scrapping of relief or funding in one area can lead to that assistance being rechanneled into another.

4. Pursue Pipelines

Arguably the most valuable business information in this year’s Autumn Statement is to be found in the new pipelines of work announced by the Chancellor. These pipelines vary from the rather open ‘£800 million to the Scottish Government for infrastructure projects’ to the more specific ‘£7.6 million for urgent and essential repairs to Wentworth Woodhouse heritage house in South Yorkshire’.

Now that the Autumn Statement has been announced, suppliers should research it for pipelines within their sectors and geographical areas of operation, bearing in mind that some sector pipelines – such as those in construction – have a trickle-down effect into others. For instance, a pipeline for building repairs might also bring security services opportunities to guard the building while the repairs are made.

After identifying a potential future pipeline of work, suppliers should then scan the procurement horizon for this work being put out to tender. This can be done by using a contracts finder service, checking national or local authority contract portals, monitoring news stories, or attending council meetings and networking events.

For best practice guidance on finding contracts, read The Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts, Chapter 4.

5. Contact Contractors

Every now and then an Autumn Statement or Budget goes one step further, not only outlining new pipelines of work but also announcing the Tier 1 contractors who will be running them. For instance, in his Autumn Statement 2016 the Chancellor detailed that £850,000 would be awarded to a Royal Society of the Arts project to promote cultural education in schools. Once the Tier 1 contractor’s name is divulged then suppliers should strike up pre-tender conversations, to establish the scope of sub-contracts available.

Best practice guidance on pre-tender networking can be found in The Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts, Chapter 9.

For more information on government opportunities, visit the BiP Solutions Resources page.