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Business Growth in a Post-Brexit world

Many businesses may feel it is difficult to prepare for the coming months without knowing what will change on or after 29th March. Although the date the United Kingdom was scheduled to leave the European Union is fast approaching, it may seem that there is still relatively little certainty as to what Brexit means – either politically, or for business.

However, there are many areas of opportunity available to businesses regardless of the outcome of the coming weeks’ political decisions. Drawing on our 35 years of experience in public procurement, BiP Solutions have produced a new guidance document, ‘Opportunities and Trends for Business Growth in a Post-Brexit World.’ Drawing on recent announcements from the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, current guidance about the various possible outcomes for Brexit, and our expert knowledge of industry trends, the seven-page guidance document covers key areas that are set to provide multiple opportunities, both in the UK and across the world, over the months ahead.

Grahame Steed, Business Intelligence and e-Sourcing Director at BiP Solutions, said:

While the UK’s exit from the EU is creating a degree of uncertainty for businesses, the growth potential provided by the public sector at home and internationally remains vast. Now is the time to focus on identifying the right opportunities within this multi-billion pound sector, and engaging with the right organisations to ensure they are aware of what businesses can do to solve their challenges.

Read and download the latest guidance on upcoming trends and opportunities by clicking here.

To learn more about how BiP Solutions can help your business access opportunities in a range of sectors, visit www.bipsolutions.com.

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.

Autumn Budget 2017 – Industry Highlights

UK Autumn Budget 2017 Announcement in London

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond presented the Government’s first Autumn Budget on 22 November. An optimistic Mr Hammond opened his Budget stating that he hoped for a “Britain that we can be proud of”, and after he promised us a “Britain fit for the future”.

This forward-thinking Budget very much focused on the needs of millennials, start-up businesses and the technology sector with stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on homes under £300,000 for first-time buyers abolished and investment allocated to a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to 5G and full fibre broadband.

Housing, Health and Infrastructure were also given a boost, which is great news for those looking for future procurement opportunities in these key sectors. The Chancellor announced that the UK is on track to build 300,000 new homes per year, and that he wanted to connect those who are living outside of city centres with new transport initiatives.

If you want the breakdown of all the Autumn Budget 2017 figures, here you can discover what public sector pipelines of work await your industry sector.

Technology

  • Philip Hammond said that there is a “new tech business in Britain founded every hour”; he wants that to change to “every half hour”.
  • The Government plans to invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence to 5G and full fibre broadband.
  • The Government wants to invest in driverless vehicles, with fully self-driving cars to be on UK roads by 2021.
  • A new £400m charging infrastructure fund will be introduced. The Government will invest an extra £100m in the Plug-In-Car Grant, and £40m in charging R&D.

Transport

  • £30m to trial new solutions on the Trans Pennine route to improve mobile and digital connectivity on trains.
  • The Government will fund the replacement of the 40-year-old rolling stock on the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Regional Government

  • The Chancellor announced spending power increases for the Scottish and Welsh Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive.
  • £2bn more for the Scottish Government.
  • £1.2bn more for the Welsh Government.
  • £660m more for the Northern Ireland Executive.
  • Government in talks to provide Northern Ireland with new city deals.

Local Authorities

  • The Government will invest £38m in the West Midlands, Liverpool and Manchester to help rough sleepers.
  • More than £1bn of lending will be made available to councils to fund high-investment projects.
  • The Government will provide Kensington and Chelsea Council with a further £28m for mental health services, regeneration support for the surrounding areas and a new community space for Grenfell United.
  • The Chancellor urged local councils that require funding for fire safety (housing) to reach out to the Government.

Health

  • An additional £10bn has been assigned to the NHS over the course of this Parliament to support the NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation plans.
  • Additional commitment of resource funding of £2.8bn to the NHS in England.
  • £3.5bn to upgrade NHS building plans to improve care.
  • NHS staff will receive a pay rise.

SMEs & Business

  • Mr Hammond said that “this Conservative Government is listening to small businesses”.
  • He aims to bring forward the planned business rates switch from RPI to CPI by two years.
  • The Government is extending the £1000 discount for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 for one more year to March 2019.
  • The ‘Staircase tax’ will be axed.
  • Businesses to gain £2.3bn thanks to a change in the rules for the uprating of business rates.

VAT

  • The UK has the highest VAT registration threshold in the OECD, at £85,000. This will not be lowered but Mr Hammond will look at reforming it.
  • No reduction in the VAT threshold for SMEs.
  • Scottish Police and Fire will get a VAT refund from April 2018. The Chancellor puts the VAT change down to the influence of Scottish Tory MPs: “I am getting used to having my ear bent by my 13 Scottish Conservative colleagues.”

Housing

  • Over the next five years the Government will commit a total of at least £44bn to capital funding, loans and guarantees to support the housing market.
  • Mr Hammond announced that the UK is on track to reach 300,000 new homes per year.
  • New money for the Home Builders Fund to get SME housebuilders building again.
  • The Government is allocating £1.5bn to help smaller firms build more houses.
  • Housing Infrastructure Fund to increase to £2.7bn.
  • Abolition of stamp duty for all first-time buyers (up to £300,000).
  • Government committed to build up to one million homes in the Oxford-Cambridge-West Mids Corridor.

Autumn Budget Procurement Budget

What does this Budget mean for procurement?

The Chancellor announced that he will extend the National Productivity Investment Fund for a further year and expand it to over £31bn.

What we can take away from this year’s Budget is that the Government is spending money in the following areas:

  • Transport
  • Digital Communications
  • Productivity
  • Housing
  • Infrastructure

This means that now is an excellent time to invest in public procurement. If you would like to find out how you can start to win government tenders, there is more information about this in our Ultimate Guide to Winning Government Contracts.

To find out more about our business and products, visit the BiP Solutions website.

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.

Autumn Statement Industry Highlights

Autumn Statement Industry Highlights

On 23 November, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced the Government’s 2016 Autumn Statement, pledging £23 billion of additional spending via the new National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF).

Among the sectors receiving fresh investment are infrastructure, housing, transport, exports, defence and security, R&D, oil and gas, communications, culture and media.

Read on to discover what public sector pipelines of work await your industry sector.

Infrastructure

  • National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to provide £23 billion of additional spending, ensuring the UK’s economy is fit for the future.
  • National Productivity Investment Fund will provide major additional spending in areas that are key to boosting productivity: transport, digital communications, research and development (R&D), and housing.
  • An increase of over £800 million to the Scottish Government for infrastructure projects.
  • An increase of over £400 million to the Welsh Government for infrastructure projects.
  • An increase of over £250 million to the Northern Ireland Executive for infrastructure projects.

Housing

  • £2.3 billion for a new Housing Infrastructure Fund for projects such as roads and water connections that will support the construction of up to 100,000 new homes in the areas where they are needed most.
  • £1.4 billion to provide 40,000 new affordable homes, including some for shared ownership and some for affordable rent.
  • £1.7 billion to speed up the construction of new homes on public sector land.

Transport

As part of the National Productivity Investment Fund, transport infrastructure will include:

  • £1.1 billion to reduce congestion and upgrade local roads and public transport
  • £220 million to tackle road safety and congestion on Highways England roads
  • £27 million to develop an expressway connecting Oxford and Cambridge
  • £450 million will also be spent on trialling railway digital signalling technology which will expand capacity and improve reliability

£390 million investment in future transport technology including driverless cars, renewable fuels and energy efficient transport. This will include:

  • £100 million investment in testing infrastructure for driverless cars
  • £150 million to provide at least 550 new electric and hydrogen buses and to support taxis to become zero emission
  • £80 million to install more charge-points for ultra-low emission vehicles
  • A two-year 100% first year allowance for companies who install electric charge-points, coming into effect immediately‎. This allows companies to deduct the cost of the charge-point from their pre-tax profits in that year

Exports

  • Doubling UK Export Finance capacity.

Defence & Security

  • Protecting the defence budget (no reduction in Budget 2016 pledge).
  • Protecting the overseas aid budget (no reduction in Budget 2016 pledge).
  • Over £102 million of LIBOR banking fines to support Armed Forces and Emergency Services charities and other related good causes: over the next 4 years support will go to more than 100 projects supporting Armed Forces personnel, their families and veterans; Emergency Service personnel; children’s hospitals, air ambulances and emergency responders; and museums and memorials.

Research & Development

  • £2 billion more per year in research and development (R&D) funding by 2020-21.
  • Increase in R&D funding for universities and businesses with R&D for areas like robotics, artificial intelligence and industrial biotechnology.

Oil & Gas

  • Carbon Price Support capped until 2020.
  • Business rates reduction package worth £6.7 billion.

Communications

  • £1 billion to invest in full-fibre broadband and trialling 5G networks.
  • Investment to support the private sector to roll out more full-fibre broadband by 2020-21.
  • Funding will also support trials of 5G mobile communications.
  • From April 2017, the Government will also provide a new 100% business rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5-year period.

Culture

  • Over £10 million to support culture and heritage projects across the UK:
  • £7.6 million will cover urgent and essential repairs to Wentworth Woodhouse heritage house in South Yorkshire
  • £850,000 for a Royal Society of the Arts pilot to promote cultural education in schools
  • £1.6 million to help complete Studio 144, an arts complex in Southampton, including an auditorium, studio, and gallery
  • £1 million towards the development of a new creative media centre in Plymouth
  • New museums and galleries tax relief will be expanded to include permanent exhibitions, set at 20% for non-touring exhibitions and 25% for touring exhibitions. The relief will be capped at £500,000 of qualifying expenditure per exhibition.

For more information on government spending plans, keep reading the BiP Solutions blog.