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Most Advantageous Tender

Public procurement changes for small businesses

Friday 19 March, 2021

What you can do to embrace your smaller company status and win more contracts

At Complete Tenders, we have recenly been discussing the responses we submiited to the consultation questions set out alongside the Government Green Paper on ‘Transforming public procurement’ as published in December 2020.

‘Most Economically Advantageous Tender’ could become ‘Most Advantageous Tender’

After carefully looking at the 42 questions posed by the Cabinet Office, we were particularly drawn to the proposed changes in which tenders would be evaluated, and in particular, what this means for the SMEs and other businesses we work with. The Government is proposing to change the evaluation of tenders from MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) to MAT (Most Advantageous Tender). 

As stated in the Green Paper, this change should ‘provide greater reassurance to contracting authorities that they can take a broader view of what can be included in the evaluation of tenders in assessing value for money, including social value as part of the quality assessment.’

This approach is already embedded into the current evaluation regulations, so the change in terminology is both symbolic and indicative of change that will now hopefully encourage more SMEs to pursue tendering opportunities with greater reassurance that it won’t always be ‘a race to the bottom’ on price in comparison to larger suppliers.

As contracting authorities take this broader view and reshape their evaluation methodology to emphasise elements such as social value businesses will need to ensure their own social value response is comprehensive, worthy and robust enough to meet this new agenda.

A new social value model was launched by the UK Government in January this year, which builds upon the Social Value Act 2012. The new measures have been designed to include:  

  • Supporting COVID-19 recovery, including within local communities. 
  • Tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills and increasing supply chain resilience.
  • Fighting climate change and reducing waste.
  • Driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and improving health and wellbeing and community integration.

SMEs may traditionally be discouraged from tendering for contracts due to demanding social value commitments and not having access to the same resources as larger organisations. 

However, it is worth bearing in mind that ironically, many SMEs are already delivering worthy social value without realising it; for instance, the employment of local people, engagement with schools and colleges or the use of local suppliers for their products. Existing local community integration could represent an advantage to a commissioning authority over some of those UK-wide suppliers that cannot commit the same level of responsibility towards a local area and are unable to be as flexible in customising solutions.  

We believe that there are things that SMEs can do to embrace their smaller company status and align it to the changing landscape of social value. These include: 

Assess what you already have in place

Look at what you already do as an organisation in terms of social value. You can use the National TOMS (Themes Outcomes and Measures) Framework to see where your existing strengths are in relation to social value requirements and work on the weaker areas. 

Research your buyer 

All public sector buyers must adhere to the Social Value Act. Even with varying degrees of consistency towards topic, most public sector organisations, especially local authorities, will publish their specific environmental, social and community agendas. It is therefore advisable to research any social value policy documents from the buyer and ensure they align with your own social value ambitions. 

Be involved 

If appropriate, participate in initial market engagement and needs analysis. There are often many opportunities to be involved with shaping a procurement process before a tender has been released, through attending bidders’ days. Be aware of any buyer specific webinars that you can be involved in.

Develop your agenda 

Develop your own social value agenda that is in the context of your business operations and could be integrated into your own strategic plan and captured through case studies to improve your tenders. Examples could include:

  • Work experience opportunities to disadvantaged groups.
  • Volunteer days at charities/non-profit organisations.
  • Upskilling employees through training programmes.
  • Implementing systems to monitor energy and water usage.
  • Mentoring partnerships with local schools, colleges and universities.

Commit, measure and report 

It may be tempting for businesses to over-claim on their social value commitments to secure a contract. However, with social value now becoming a key evaluation element for the delivery of a contract, it is vital that SMEs can demonstrate how they will actually deliver their commitments, including specifics on targets and objectives. It is also important to show the management and reporting processes you will put in place to ensure that social value is an important factor throughout the lifecycle of the contract. 

Here at Complete Tenders we specialise in helping SME’s through the tender process. Our website is full of useful information to guide you. If you are looking for more specific information feel free to give us a call on 01707 244713 or email us at

AUTHOR: Bella Stevenson - Bid Manager - Complete Tenders

Bella really enjoy working with customers and their teams in an open and collaborative way to bring out their USPs and how these match up with what the buyer is looking for.

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