Council Tenders – We Answer Your Frequently Asked Questions

10th May 2019

Council Tendering – Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: Dec 17, 2021 @ 9:48 am

Public sector procurement including Council tendering can be a tricky business. Now, the vast majority of public sector organisations use the tendering process to streamline their purchasing of goods and service to make this fairer, more efficient and to ensure they get the best value for money. And it’s not just councils.

The following are just a few examples of the public sector organisations that use tendering and procurement to streamline, improve and simplify their purchasing efforts:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Health Trusts.
  • Benevolent organisations.
  • Universities
  • Cultural and heritage-related organisations.

We get lots of questions from clients wanting to find out more about the council tendering process who are often confused about buyer requirements, how the process works and how to produce a winning submission. A few of these are listed below:

Q: Where do Councils list their tendering opportunities?

A: During the Council tendering process, purchasing authorities use all sorts of platforms to advertise their opportunities. Therein lies the problem! Rather than there being one, single, concise and easily navigable list of all council tender opportunities across the country, each council will, in all likelihood, use a different site.

Each of these will be specific to the individual purchasing authority, each with its own, unique list of opportunities specific to that local authority. Moreover, each site will typically require prospective suppliers to sign up, create an account and log in, to express interest. So, it’s not straightforward I’m afraid.

However, we here at Hudson have developed a solution to help. With our sector-specific portals under the Hudson Discover branch of the business, we have our opportunity tracking team searching all the published council tendering lists of opportunities we can find to log these in one central, searchable database.

Contact the Hudson Discover team today to see how we can help you simplify your efforts to find tenders published by local authorities nationwide.

Q: What sort of services do councils tender for?

A: Like many other public sector organisations, councils tender for most of the goods and services they require ranging from small-scale jobs such as grass cutting and cleaning to large scale requirements such as the construction of a school or hospital.

Some services are, however, too small for it to be worth many councils’ while to put out to tender. In such cases, councils tend to employ small teams of specialist servicemen and women to take care of smaller jobs such as routine repairs, painting and grounds maintenance.

For the opportunities that are put out to tender, talk to our Hudson Discover team today about how our sector-specific portals can help you find the local authority tenders that are right for you.

Q: Tell us more about Council tendering practices.

Councils typically want suppliers to provide a lot of information and to give lots of detail on their policies, internal procedures, past experience, competencies and accreditations, to allow them to make the most informed decision possible about which prospective supplier offers the best value for money.

In procurement terms, this is known as sourcing the “MEAT” – the “most economically advantageous tender.” Hence, rather than being asked to create a proposal of their own envisaging, suppliers are often asked to adhere to a strict set of requirements as part of the tender process. Hence, as a prospective supplier, you’d have to be prepared to read the local authority’s requirements in detail and carefully construct answers accordingly. If you are confused by the requirements of council tendering, talk to our Hudson Succeed team who can guide you through the process, review your work, or take the writing and tender management processes off your hands altogether.

Q: How do councils evaluate tenders?

A: As mentioned above, councils typically look for the most economically advantageous tender and use this as the criteria for selecting a winning supplier. However, it is important to understand exactly how councils ascertain this. Local authorities, and indeed other public sector purchasing organisations, assess prospective supplier responses based on a combination of their price and their response to the quality/competency questions associated with each tender.

It is also important to note that it is not always a 50/50 split between cost and quality, rather, buyers often give more credence/weight to the quality side of this. Indeed, a typical quality/price split, and certainly the kind of split we see most often, is either 60/40, or 70/30.

Hence, it is important for prospective suppliers to realise that just “going in cheap,” as it were, will not necessarily win them the bid. The emphasis on quality in council tendering means that whilst a competitor may charge more than you, if they can demonstrate significantly better answers to the quality questions and display their organisation’s strengths and key competencies in a way that exceeds your answers, then they will in all likelihood win the contract, or at least, place more highly in the rankings than you.

Check out our free resource Tender VLE, the UK’s first, free of charge, online, tendering, virtual learning environment. Our video of “Sourcing the MEAT” will explain this process in more detail.

Q: Is council tendering uniform across the country?

A: The short answer is No. We rarely see uniformity of any description when it comes to council tendering. The only allusion to uniformity that you might see is in the form of a Selection Questionnaire or “SQ”. This is often “First hurdle” in many councils tendering processes containing a standardised list of pass/fail questions for prospective suppliers to answer. Typically, once applicants pass this stage, they are then invited to tender.

This next part of the process typically takes various different forms and includes a variety of questions on various subjects which largely depend on the sector of the goods/services being procured, including health and safety, contract management, business continuity and specific proposals for the works at hand. In short, there is no real template for what a council tender looks like.

Q: How is council tendering adapting to change?

The world has entered new territory following the spread of COVID-19. Individuals, communities and businesses must rapidly respond to local and global news and changes. These changes affect every part of our lives and livelihoods – these are unprecedented times.

At Hudson, we are doing everything we can to support our clients going forward into this new landscape. We will continue to do so – we are in this for the long haul. Our team at Hudson will do all we can to adapt, thrive, and ensure our clients can too.

Making the future matter now

In times like these, it is essential to maintain a positive approach to the future. The choices and actions that business owners take now will affect their future prospects. Let’s make those prospects good ones – not just for businesses, but for our communities.

Key workers play an essential role in the fight against coronavirus, and the public sector fully recognises this. Communities supporting each other makes sense, now more so than ever. Council tenders will seek out businesses that add real social value to their work during these difficult times.

For now and in the coming weeks, we are in a unique situation where proximity to others is limited. The government, health officials and individuals are coming together to tackle the spread of COVID-19. Ultimately, when a resolution is found, businesses will be in a unique situation.

Councils and public sector bodies will look for businesses that championed social value during this time. Turning this crisis into an opportunity to make a difference to communities is essential. Doing so will benefit our wellbeing, our community relationships and our economy in ways previously unimagined.

Q: What can I do?

Many people will have heard of the term ‘social value’. Put simply, social value is the positive social impact that businesses have in society. We create this impact directly and purposefully through our business practices. This impact can be generated in the form of:

  • Policies and procedures
  • Spending
  • Training
  • Volunteering
  • Mentoring
  • Community engagement

We can deliver positive social impact through delivering public sector and council tenders.

By doing so, we create a positive impact in terms of wellbeing, resilience and other factors. It makes business sense to support communities. In turn, communities will increase engagement with businesses long-term. The challenge here is doing so within the current limitations we have. It is challenging – but not impossible.

Q: where do I start?

There are four key areas of social value which we can contribute to. These are:

  1. Economic impact. This considers:

  • Employability, work placements and recruitment
  • Training opportunities, apprenticeships and upskilling
  • Graduate schemes
  • Volunteering
  • Using local resources
  1. Environmental impact. This considers:

  • Sustainability
  • Carbon footprint
  • Energy reduction
  • Minimising waste
  • ISO 14001
  • Embodied carbon
  • Passivhaus
  1. Community impact. This considers:

  1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This considers:

  • All of the above
  • A region’s Strategic Economic Plan
  • Policies
  • Supply chain management

How these apply to your organisation is sector dependent. Each sector will have its own unique opportunities and challenges to do the above. In procurement, buyers will prioritise certain matters. For example, council tenders who need cleaning services may prioritise the environment. On the other hand, those who need HR services may prioritise community and economic impact.

Q: How do I know what to look for?

The key here is to identify where your organisation can make a difference and implement this in your bid management strategy.  This way, you can judge what buyers may look for within your sector. You can do this in a number of ways:

  1. As a business owner, self-reflection. Is there anything you have been overlooking that you could improve?
  2. Ask your team. Feedback is essential. Take comments on board, particularly if several people are providing the same feedback. Similarly, if a team member has an innovative idea, consider it.
  3. Review your policies and procedures through an internal audit.
  4. Produce a Social Value Action Plan. Map out what you are doing now, and what you will do in future.
  5. Listen to past experience. If you have tendered before, don’t ignore issues where you may have tripped up in past submissions. Do you have the certification, policies or evidence the buyer asked for? If not, don’t ignore it. Implement those changes. It will benefit your social value responses further down the line.

Q: What council tenders and public sector contracts are there?

In the coming weeks, public sector and council tenders will request services including:

These include cleaning contracts for schools, offices, hospitals, social housing and more. These are essential and will be in high demand. Councils will seek to protect their staff and individuals as much as possible from illness. Other contracts may involve manned security or building repairs.

This can involve contracts for vehicle hire, transport and deliveries. They might involve courier services or storage. Effective logistics which limit physical proximity will be essential in upcoming contracts.

These tenders can involve catering contract services and laundry service contracts. These are essential to ensuring key workers whom council tenders may serve are supported.

Opportunities here might include contracts for recruitment, HR or restructure planning. New opportunities may arise in the form of virtual and offsite staff. Swift changes in how we must communicate with colleagues digitally can stimulate new types of council tenders.

Going forward, councils and public sector bodies will seek businesses that demonstrated social value in the face of adversity. When tendering, they will ask how you delivered social value during the crisis. The critical question will be:

How did your business go over and above what was asked, whilst delivering what was needed?

Of course, buyers will be mindful of the impact on businesses. Organisations must keep a balance between supporting others and staying afloat. It is critical to reflect on your organisation’s ability to support others. We must be proactive, innovative and pragmatic to meet these challenges.

Delivering social value is critically dependent on our ability to maintain business, first and foremost. Businesses without essential plans in place to tackle the crisis will lack the capacity to deliver social value. Reflection now is essential for future delivery. It is useful to reflect on aspects such as:

  • How do I keep my staff safe from COVID-19 to do their job? Is it possible at this stage?
  • Do I have the finances in place to deliver? If not, have I looked at available support?
  • How will the impact of COVID-19 change the way my service is delivered in future?

Q: How do I move forward?

In these uncertain times, there has been huge support from communities across the country. Individuals and businesses are rallying to volunteer across the UK. They are providing services such as deliveries, driving and phone calls.

  1. Even if your organisation does not have the resources, the best asset you have is time. Make some time.
  2. As an organisation, you can engage with your local community through volunteering and advice.
  3. When business is slow, use this time wisely to develop your policies and procedures. Can you implement current needs into future policy?
  4. Develop your training and mentoring programmes to respond to the new social and economic climate. Refine and hone how you do things not just now, but for the future.
  5. Be adaptable. Demonstrate this in facts and figures.
  6. Use social media. It can be an easy trap to fall under the radar – don’t. Communicate with your clients. Demonstrate that you are taking positive steps forward. Engage with your community through social media. This uncertain time highlights now more than ever that we are all human. If you have good news or have achieved something locally, let people know. Celebrate the successes of others, let them know that your organisation cares.

By doing so, you will have a bank of social value evidence for council tenders in future.

How can we help with your council bid?

To support you, at Hudson Succeed we offer our Tender Mentor service. This is for businesses who want to ensure the bid they have produced is the best it can be. Here, we will externally review and advise on all aspects of your written submission. This way, you can be sure that your responses – including social value – will be persuasive and engaging. Through this service, we will mark your bid against scoring criteria, in advance of submission. If you have done your research, produced your draft and are looking for bespoke consultation, get in touch.

Council Tenders – Looking to the future

Businesses are in a unique and intimidating position during the COVID-19 pandemic. When we look outwardly at news reports, the situation seems bleak. It is so important to look inwardly – at our team members, local communities and business practices. We can find ways of helping our communities. Our approach must be a mindset of not just mitigation, but planning for an optimistic future.

Further Support

If you’re confused by council tendering, its practises, processes and how to track down those all-important opportunities, talk to our tender experts at Hudson Succeed. Our Bid Writers will help guide you on your path toward tendering success.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:


Share This Insight

A Bid Writer


Similar Insights

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts
Latest Insights 29th June 2023

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts

Tendering Process for Technology Contracts  Winning technology contracts relies on a combination of experience in…

Read More
Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more!
Latest Insights 12th June 2023

Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more!

Win Tenders in the Hospitality Sector: Laundry, Catering and more! Winning hospitality tenders relies on…

Read More
Tender VLE: Our Virtual Bid Learning Environment
Latest Insights 5th June 2023

Tender VLE: Our Virtual Bid Learning Environment

Tender VLE It’s simple — to win contracts, you must have the necessary skills of…

Read More
How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips!
Latest Insights 23rd May 2023

How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips!

How to Win Healthcare Tenders: Our 10 Top Tips! Winning healthcare tenders is a skill…

Read More
How to Become a Tender Expert
Latest Insights 10th May 2023

How to Become a Tender Expert

How to Become a Tender Expert Becoming a tender expert is a surefire way to…

Read More
Top 10 Tendering Secrets
Latest Insights 3rd May 2023

Top 10 Tendering Secrets

Top 10 Tendering Secrets It is no secret that the tendering process can be complex…

Read More

Let’s get started.

Call for a FREE consultation with our Tender Writing Consultants or simply send us an email and a team member will contact you.

Request a Callback