NEW CCS CORE TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Francesca Pomlett is the lady at CCS in control of the new Core Terms and Conditions that CCS intend to use for all their contracts. She explained that the first framework to use the new core terms will be Facilities Management due to go live in July 2018. I asked her whether her team was willing to listen to future comments or whether the new core terms were a fait accompli? She understands that there are concerns that the core terms may not work for technology products. She agreed that she would listen to our comments and that the new Core Terms would probably be put under version control with one or two re-issues each year. They are loathe to change them too often but accept that it may be necessary in the early days. She understood the next Network Services Framework was currently under discussion and I told her that Innopsis would be supplying detailed, constructive feedback. We are very supportive of the idea of simplified, shortened contract terms but want to get them right.
PROMPT PAYMENT CONSULTATION
Frances Burrell is the lady at CCS running the Prompt Payment consultation. This is the debate about whether large suppliers (over £5m per annum) who do not stick to the prompt payment guidelines should be disqualified from receiving future CCS contracts.
The SME Panel asked her to examine the use of ‘Pay when Paid’ clauses in subcontracts. Some prime contractors are insisting on the right to not pay a subcontractor until they have been paid. Often the reason a prime contractor has not been paid has nothing to do with an SME who has supplied work as requested under their contract. This is causing SME’s significant problems with banks. Banks will not lend to SME’s if they cannot guarantee that they will get paid for the work they supply.
MINISTERS FOR SMALL BUSINESS IN EACH MAJOR GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT
Theresa May has insisted that each major Government department appoints a Minister responsible for small business. This is an attempt to keep the focus on the target of 33% of Government spend to be with SME’s by 2022. I asked whether these ministers would be prepared to come to the SME Panel to explain their plans? I was told to wait until the Minister responsible for the SME Panel, Oliver Dowden arrived and then to ask it again – so I did – see later.
DYNAMIC PURCHASING SYSTEMS (DPS) AND DIRECT AWARD CONTRACTS
I explained that whilst it was understandable that DPS were popular, as suppliers could join a framework at any time, we were seeing significant problems with DPS not allowing direct award contracts. One of the SME Procurement experts stated that direct award contracts were legally allowed but the buyer had the option not to allow them. I told them that CCS had categorically stated several times that Direct Awards were not legally possible and that it was causing problems in the new HSCN Framework RM3825.
CCS has agreed to provide a legal clarification on DPS and Direct Awards.
OLIVER DOWDEN, MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT RESILIENCE AND EFFICIENCY
Oliver was impressive. He is clearly trying to help achieve the 33% SME spend target. He agreed to my request to bring us some Ministers for Small Business to explain their plans. The first ones are likely to be from the NHS and Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Oliver asked me how I thought we could improve PQQ’s? I told him to scrap them. Not sure I’ll win this one.
I had huge fun at this meeting but I’m not sure they will let me in next time (just joking).