Somerset Council currently spends over £300 million each year on procuring and commissioning a wide range of services, goods and works. It is our responsibility to use this money in the best possible way to achieve council objectives.

Somerset Council have a team of procurement and contract management specialists who oversee procurement and contract management opportunities for the council. They work with service areas and commissioners to ensure that the Councils Contract Procedure Rules are followed. Contract Procedure Rules exist to ensure that the procurement process is open, honest and transparent. Council officers will follow these rules and any associated Public Procurement Regulations when undertaking procurement activities. We also have an obligation to publish information to the public on what we spend our funding on and who we spend it with. We also want suppliers to be able to see what current and upcoming opportunities we have and how they can work with us to ensure the best value is achieved.

Somerset Council use an e-tendering portal to run tenders in a legally compliant way. In line with many other local authorities in the South West, Somerset Council use the Supplying the South West Portal. We use this portal when running a competitive procedure to select a suitable supplier for many of our tenders. The portal provides an effective way for councils to engage and communicate with suppliers. It provides a single place for buyers and suppliers to access and respond to new business opportunities and contracts.

Rules, regulations and policies

Contract procedure rules

The Local Government Act 1972, section 135 requires Somerset Council to have standing orders for how it enters into contracts. These Contract Procedure Rules (“Rules”) are the standing orders required by the 1972 Act. They form part of the Council’s Constitution and are, in effect, the instructions of the Council, to officers and elected members, for entering into contracts on behalf of the Council.

These Rules govern ALL purchases of works, goods and services across the whole Council; they cover UK and EU legislative requirements as well as good practice. Should there be any discrepancies between these rules and legislation, legislation is the dominant authority and must be followed.

The purpose of Contract Procedure Rules and Standing Orders is to set clear rules for the procurement of goods, works and services for the council. These rules and processes ensure that the council is fair and accountable in its dealings with contractors and suppliers, while ensuring that the council gets value for money and that it is taking good care of public funds.

It is essential that Contract Procedure Rules are followed to ensure a competitive process to deliver value for money and avoid practices that are non-compliant and may restrict, distort or prevent competition. They are regularly reviewed to ensure they remain compliant with current legislation and that they are fit for purpose.

Our procedure rules provide a basis for fair competition by providing transparent and auditable procedures to protect Somerset Council’s reputation from any suggestion of dishonesty or corruption.

These rules apply to all officers of the council or any companies or organisations within the Council’s control. They are part of the council’s Constitution and therefore officers have a duty to ensure they have fully understood them. This makes sure they have sufficient authority prior to commencing any procurement or contracting activity. (See section 10. Pre-Procurement authorisations.)

Officers must also ensure that any persons or organisations acting on behalf of the council fully comply with these rules.

These rules are mandatory and shall govern and regulate the council’s procurement and contract award procedures. Officers must also refer to the Commercial and Procurement Team for more detailed guidance throughout the procurement process.

The expectation is of compliance to these rules and in any cases of doubt advice must be sought from the Commercial and Procurement Team. Failure to follow these rules may be dealt with as a breach of the council’s standards of conduct and in certain instances may be treated as gross misconduct and give rise to action under the council’s disciplinary policy and procedure.

If upon reading the rules the officer discovers a lack of clarity or wishes to ensure their comprehension and compliance, they must consult with the Commercial and Procurement Team for advice and guidance. The officer will not be excused from these rules on grounds of a lack of understanding.

The administration, monitoring and governance of these rules are the responsibility of the Commercial and Procurement Team.

Public Contract Regulations

Public Contract Regulations govern the procurement of good, works and services by public sector organisations and local government organisations. We have a legal obligation to follow the Public Contract Regulations for contracts over certain thresholds set by central government. These thresholds are reviewed every 2 years.

The regulations govern the way in which public sector organisations carry out their procurement exercises. They include detailed procedures for all procurements above certain monetary thresholds.

The Procurement Act 2023 received Royal Accent in 2023 and will become law during 2024. This may change some of the requirements that will apply to how business will be conducted by the council. Somerset Council are reviewing the new legislation to ensure they comply with the new requirements. Suppliers may access details on how the new regulations will affect them by viewing the knowledge drops provided at The Official Transforming Public Procurement Knowledge Drops – GOV.UK

The principles of the new rules are expected to remain the same:

  • Fairness
  • Transparency
  • Openness

The process for these procurements will change but are expected to remain in principle:

  • Councils will decide which of the procedures is appropriate.
  • Publish a contract notice on the Find a Tender Service website.
  • Invite tenders according to the procedure being used. There will be minimum timescales for this to ensure that enough time is given to respond to adverts and prepare submissions.
  • Select a suitable contractor using the criteria published in the contract notice.
  • Place a contract award notice in The Find a Tender Service.
  • Publish contract details in line with the new transparency requirements.

It is anticipated that further transparency will be required under the new regulations which may include further notices and detail surrounding the contract award being made publicly available. Further details will follow.

Doing business with the council

We have a range of information detailing upcoming contract opportunities, information about the tendering process, our terms and conditions for doing business and our ordering and invoicing process.

If you are a prospective supplier, and you are interested in doing business with the council you will need to register for free on the Supplying the South West Portal. New opportunities will be advertised on the portal for suppliers to view.

Once you are registered you can search for opportunities and you can set the system up to send alerts related to your areas of interest. To register, please see our guidance below.

Contracts Register (

Market position statement

Social Value and Corporate Responsibility

Our Social Value Policy outlines how we will embed social value in the way we commission our activities to benefit residents, communities, businesses and visitors across the county.

Find out more about how we advertise contract opportunities through the Supplying the South West website.

We also have a Corporate Social Responsibility Statement.

Our tendering and procurement processes and systems

Our procurement processes are fully compliant with Government guidance. Information is available to businesses in relation to public sector procurement here:

Public-sector procurement – GOV.UK

Contract opportunities can also be accessed via GOV.UK’s Contracts Finder service.

Higher value procurements subject to Public Procurement rules may also be found on GOV.UK’s Find a Tender service.

In conjunction with the Supplying The South West portal, the websites above will enable suppliers and contractors to access contracts with Somerset Council.

The Official Transforming Public Procurement Knowledge Drops – GOV.UK provides bite sized details for suppliers in relation to the Procurement Act 2023.

Local transparency code for contracts

The Local Government Transparency Code 2015 requires local government to ensure data is available to increase democratic accountability. And make it easier for local people to contribute towards local decision making. The availability of data can also open up new markets for local business, voluntary and community sectors and social enterprises to run services or manage public assets.

Local transparency code for contracts

Tendering and procurement strategy

Somerset Council’s Constitution governs the way that Somerset Council operates. This includes the Council’s financial regulations and Contract Standing orders which are the contracting authority’s rules for the buying, renting and leasing of goods, services and works and apply to all relevant contracts made by the Council unless otherwise specified.

The full constitution can be found here: Somerset Council Constitution. Contract Procedure Rules can be found in Item 28 Part I6.

The aim of these rules is to assist officers in achieving best practice whilst completing a legal procurement process in line with Public Procurement rules. This ensures that the Council fulfils its duty by delivering the best value for its council tax payers and excellent outcomes for its service users.

Last reviewed: February 27, 2024 by Daniel

Next review due: August 27, 2024

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