Procurement Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you find this FAQ useful. Please help us improve this FAQ page by letting us know if there are other questions we should add.

What is Procurement?

Procurement in the public sector is the process of purchasing of goods, works and services. To a large degree it is a pre-defined and regulated process. The key principles of procurement are that contracting authorities shall treat economic operators equally and without discrimination. Moreover they shall act in a transparent and proportionate manner.

Harrow Council's procurement requires the delivery of several local and national priorities, such as economic and social value.

The procurement process itself has numerous activities:

  • Pre procurement understanding and engaging with the market.
  • Developing a service specification and invitation to tender documents, questions and their weighting. The answers of which we use to score the bids and identify the winning bidder.
  • The pricing document. Here suppliers set out their price offer which there will be scored weighting attributed.
  • The instruction to tenderers so it is fully understood what we are procuring.
  • How and by when suppliers must respond.

How do I find out about supplier opportunities?

The procurement page on the Harrow Council webpage has the procurement pipeline of opportunities. This gives a clear view on procurement over the coming year and the subsequent two years. 

You can also find all published contract opportunities on our e-Tendering system ProContract. After registering, improve and narrow your search by selecting the London Borough of Harrow in the search option to find our current opportunities.

What are the procurement rules that the Council must follow?

Procurement regulations fall into two camps:

Firstly, we have a set of regulations that are enshrined into UK law. These for obvious reasons cannot be breached or waived. These are called the Public Contract Regulations 2015 (PCRs) and can be found on

Secondly, Harrow Council has its own set of rules called the Contract Procedure Rules (CPRs). These are rules our officers must follow. They follow the legal framework for procurement as set out in the PCRs, but they go further. The CPRs sets out the internal governance framework that Council officers need to adhere to when undertaking procurement. 

What happens if I do not get my tender in on time?

A key principle of procurement is treating economic operators equally and without discrimination. Adhering to this, it is imperative that all tenders are received prior to the deadline. It is highly unlikely that any tender received after a deadline will be considered.

How will my tender be assessed?

Tenders are assessed strictly in accordance with the Invitation to Tender and Instructions to Tender.

How will I get feedback if I am not successful in a tender?

All bidders, successful or unsuccessful receive a letter with feedback in accordance with the PCRs 2015 (amended).

Does the Council try to support local businesses?

Supporting the local economy is a key priority of the council. The Council for many years has been averaging 25% of its third party spend is with businesses in the borough.

We hold annual ‘meet the buyer’ events. We invite local businesses to attend seminars, talks and networking events that explain the Council’s opportunities and processes. 

If you are a local SME and have any further questions, please email

What can I do, if, after reading the tender documents, I still don’t understand something?

We design our tender documents to be as user friendly as possible. We aim to avoid any ambiguity or misinterpretation. However, it is always possible that a supplier may be confused by something. That is why all tender processes have what is known as a period of clarification. This is an opportunity to ask any questions.

A response to a clarification sought by one tenderer is sent to all tenderers. The only caveat to that is, if the clarification is deemed commercially sensitive to the organisation asking the question. If the Council deems it to be, then a response will only be sent back to the tenderer asking the question. 

All tender clarification questions must come through the e-tendering system we deploy. Individual officers must not be attempted to be contacted by email or phone.

Do I send my tender back by post or email it to you?

Neither. All tender opportunities and associated documents will be issued through our e-tendering portal. Submissions must be sent back through the e-tendering system.

What details must I send you to be set up as a supplier?

The supplier setup process at Harrow Council requires companies that we do business with to submit various documents. This ensures we undertake appropriate due diligence on organisations we do business with. And that the company’s bank account details are correct as verified by their bank.

We require your bank account details. It can be in the form of a letter from the bank or taken from a bank statement. We require the account name, to ensure it matches with the business we are engaging with. We also need the sort code and account number. This is the only information we require. We never ask suppliers for financial transaction information as part of the supplier set up process. 

Am I expected to pay the London Living Wage (LLW) to my employees? 

Ensuring employees are paid a fair living wage is a priority of the Council. We encourage all suppliers to Harrow Council to pay the LLW.

Does the Council operate an approved list of providers?

No, we do not. We procure either through open competition or using a compliant framework.

Up to what level of opportunity do you just seek quotations and not a tender?

The Council’s CPRs require only a quotation process for purchasing requirements of up to £50,000. Up to three quotations are required to be sought. At these quotation levels we really try to look for SMEs and local providers.

Is the Council only interested in the cheapest price?

No, we always work on the basis of best value. This is a balance between an acceptable quality level of provision and the best price submitted. A supplier with an unacceptable quality level will not win a contract just because their price is low.

If I currently have, or have had, a contract with the Council, will I get preferential treatment for future opportunities?

No. We don't give a supplier we may have an existing or past relationship with preferential treatment. Each tender opportunity will be run in a fair, open, non-discriminatory way.  

What is Social Value and why is it important in winning contracts?

The Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 came into force in January 2013. It makes the responsibilities of a contracting authority clear, when they procure services, subject to public procurement regulations. It necessitates consideration of the “economic, social and environmental well-being of the relevant area”.

Social Value is defined as:

The additional benefit to the community from a commissioning or procurement process, over and above the direct purchasing of works, goods and services.

Social Value is a key priority of the Council and we have gone beyond the Act’s requirements. We implement Social Value in all aspects of our procurement activity where it is practicable to do so.

I have heard that the Council uses compliant procurement frameworks for awarding contracts. What are they? 

A procurement Framework is an agreement put in place with a single supplier or multiple suppliers. It enables a contracting authority like Harrow Council to place orders for services without running lengthy tendering exercises. It will normally require a competition process but is a faster route than traditional tendering.

Procurement Framework Agreements are Public Contract Regulations (2015) compliant. This removes the need to independently undertake a full procurement process. It will have already been done as part of setting up the Framework.

There are multiple organisations’ that offer frameworks for a variety of goods, works and services. The Crown Commercial Services, ESPO and KCS are some we frequently use.

The Council has declared a Climate Change Emergency. What does that mean for suppliers?

Saving the planet must be a priority for everyone. Even a small change by everyone can make a significant positive impact. Considerations include:

  • reducing carbon emissions
  • reducing pollutants
  • thinking about how we produce or build
  • how we dispose of goods
  • keeping waste to a minimum

The Council recognises it has great responsibilities when it comes to the Climate agenda. We also recognise that we have vast supply chains who we must bring on this journey with us. We have therefore developed with seven other boroughs the West London a Climate Change Charter. We expect our suppliers to agree to it. 

Additionally, we have all agreed a Climate Change policy. It is used to incorporate Climate change criteria and questions in the tendering we do.

So, it is important that as a potential supplier to Harrow Council and more widely across the public sector that your organisation can demonstrate the positive steps you are taking in respect to reducing your carbon footprint.

Any useful tips you can give me?

If there is a Market Engagement event, try to attend. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the contract opportunity. Use feedback received from any previous unsuccessful tenders.

  • Make sure you follow the instructions in the tender.
  • If we have given word or page limits stick to them.
  • Read the tender documents and instructions carefully and seek clarification of anything you do not understand.
  • Take note of the weightings of the evaluation criteria and answer appropriately to that.
  • Give evidence and examples of any relevant skills and experience in quality questions.
  • Make sure you have answered all the mandatory requirements.
  • Give your best realistic price and break it down as much as possible.   
  • Understand what the Council’s wider priorities are. These include Social Value and Climate Change. Demonstrate how you can contribute to these priorities.