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A guide for suppliers, contractors and providers

About this guide

This guide has been produced to assist organisations who wish to supply the Council with goods, materials, services or works.

It aims to help in four ways:

  • it outlines the rules that the Council must follow.
  • it alerts organisations to the opportunities to supply the Council.
  • it explains how to bid for Council work.
  • it advises the appropriate contacts within the Council for categories of spend.

The Council encourages competition and welcomes bids from new and established organisations. Contracts must be awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous solution for the Council. The Council cannot discriminate in favour of local organisations but they will be given every encouragement to compete for Council contracts.

What are the benefits of working with the Council? We are:

  • fair
  • non-discriminatory
  • transparent
  • professional
  • long standing
  • prompt to pay

If any organisation is interested in pursuing business opportunities with the Council, the organisation should visit the ProContract website (opens new window) where they may be able to register against future contracts and will be alerted to Council tendering opportunities.

How much the council spends

Serving 200,000 people across the borough and covering 55 square miles, Gateshead Council is the largest of the five Tyne and Wear authorities.

In the region of £245m per annum was spent on external provision of works, goods and services, and it is our responsibility to use this money in a way that achieves the best possible outcomes for local people and generates maximum value for the "Gateshead Pound".

The Council is a member of the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO). NEPO is a local government purchasing consortium of 11 councils in the North East of England.

The NEPO contracts have a current estimated annual value in excess of £210m. The Council lets hundreds of contracts of varying types from one-off purchases to long-term service contracts. Many of the contracts for the supply of goods and materials will be in the form of a "framework contract" which will last for a specific period of time before coming up for renewal.

Opportunities to supply the Council

Since the summer of 2010, all tendering activity has been consolidated through the Council's Corporate Commissioning and Procurement Team. The Corporate Commissioning and Procurement Team manages its workload through a "Category Management" approach.

Category Management enables the Council to look across all of its Services and identify the best way for securing particular categories of goods and services. For each procurement process, a multidisciplinary team of officers is established who are responsible for developing specifications, evaluating the responses from the market and recommending the most appropriate provider(s) of the goods, services or works required by the Council.

How to find out about opportunities

A detailed list covering all period contracts is maintained on the NEPO Portal, and can be accessed on the Contracts Register (opens new window).

To view opportunities specific to Gateshead select 'NEPO' under the 'Portals' drop down list and then select 'Gateshead' under the 'Organisations' drop down list. Details of available tendering opportunities will be published on the NEPO Portal and suppliers wishing to do business with the Council should ensure that they are registered on there.

Goods and services contracts over £213,477and works contracts over £5,336,937 are advertised on the Government's Find a Tender service (opens new window).

Gateshead Connect is a new business support service which aims to make sure local businesses benefit from procurement opportunities offered by Gateshead Council, our contractors and partners, and ongoing regeneration investment. 

By focusing on supporting local procurement, Gateshead Connect aids local wealth creation through the creation, retention, and protection of jobs and recycling spend in the local economy. View more information on Gateshead Connect.

Tendering and quotation procedures

The Council will usually use one of the following procedures:

Open procedure - all interested organisations are invited to tender.

  • one stage process where all tender documentation is issued to tenderers at the invitation to tender stage to complete.

Restricted procedure - any organisation may express an interest, however only organisations meeting the required selection criteria will be invited to tender.

  • two stage process
  • selection questionnaire issued to assess the suitability of organisations to supply to the Council and the ability to satisfy the contract before tenders are issued

Request for Quotation (RFQ) - a minimum of four relevant organisations are invited to quote.

The tender process

The contract notice or advertisement will invite organisations to submit an expression of interest for a contract and will detail the procedure and what information is required.

Selection questionnaire - The general information requested provides basic details about an organisation, verifies that it can be identified as a legitimate trading organisation (address of office, registration number and company group information), that it has acceptable levels of economic and financial standing and that it promotes good practices in areas of safeguarding and health and safety. There will also be technical questions about your organisation's previous experience and general capability.

The areas assessed can be summarised as follows:-

  • economic and Financial Standing
  • technical and Professional Ability
  • health and Safety
  • safeguarding

It is important that organisations supply all of the requested information and respond by the due date. This information will form the basis of deciding whether you will be shortlisted for the next stage, i.e. Invitation to Tender.

View an example of the Selection Questionnaire (Word doc) [86KB] (opens new window)  

View an example of the Selection Questionnaire Scoring Matrix Template (Excel doc) [199KB] (opens new window) . This demonstrates how questions within the Selection Questionnaire will be evaluated.

Invitation to Tender (ITT) - Following the Selection stage, in a Restricted Tender procedure, tenderers selected to proceed will receive an Invitation to Tender (ITT). If the tender process does not involve a Selection stage, i.e. the Open Tender procedure, then on application, the ITT documentation will be dispatched together with the Selection Questionnaire.

Tender evaluation and contract award - returned tenders will be evaluated against the pre-determined criteria as specified in the tender documentation and evaluation matrix. Evaluation will focus on examining how the tender proposals will deliver the service (quality) and the cost of the service (price). The balance between quality and price will depend on the particular contract being tendered. Normally the Council will award the contract on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender. The successful tenderer will be notified in writing via the NEPO Portal.

Social Value

What Social Value is - The Social Value Act 2012 states that all public bodies must consider Social Value when issuing a tender.  Social Value outcomes are deemed to be offers over and above what would normally be delivered from the contract for example they might help to improve economic, social, and environmental wellbeing, through creating new jobs, protecting the environment, tackling inequality, or improving health and wellbeing.

The Council's commitment to Social Value - The Council recognises the worth of Social Value and the difference it can make to the people, communities, and businesses of Gateshead.  The Council has made a bold commitment to actively apply the principles of the Social Value Act, and for all procurements over £100k there will be a weighting of 20% applied to Social Value.  This is a much higher weighting than the regional and national average.  To help deliver Social Value, the Council has adopted a Social Value Toolkit which contains several Social Value outcomes aligned to the priorities of Thrive and other Council policies.  View the Social Value Toolkit (Excel doc) [1MB] (opens new window) .

Early engagement - The Council engages early with the supply market and stakeholders to determine what Social Value outcomes could be applied to a contract.  As part of this engagement the Council holds market engagement events with suppliers to identify what they think is achievable.  The Council also works closely with internal colleagues from Climate Change, Economic Development, HR, Public Health, and Social Care, to reach a common understanding of how to maximise the social value that can be achieved from the contract. 

Tender evaluation - Tenderers are required to state what social value they could offer should they win the contract. The social value commitments can vary depending upon the contract, for example suppliers may commit to employing local people, offering apprenticeships, donations in kind to schools or VCSE's, or supporting the reduction in carbon within Gateshead. Tenderers are scored on the Social Value they can offer, the more social value they offer, the higher score they will achieve.

Gateshead Exchange - We have developed Gateshead Exchange to help us deliver social value in Gateshead. Gateshead Exchange is designed to bring suppliers, schools, colleges, community groups and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs) together to provide social value to the communities of Gateshead. View further information on Gateshead Exchange.

Monitoring the delivery of Social Value - The Council are using the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) to fund a post for a Social Value Coordinator.  The Social Value coordinator will ensure the delivery and coordination of the Social Value offers, working closely with VCSE's, internal and external stakeholders and suppliers.  The Council has also developed a database to help monitor the delivery status of Social Value offers to ensure the offers stipulated by Suppliers are delivered.

General Terms and Conditions

View Gateshead's General Terms and Conditions of Purchase for orders

Contract performance

Gateshead Council monitors its performance as part of its duty under Best Value, and organisations who provide goods, services and works to the Council are monitored to assess their compliance with pre-defined performance criteria.

Contracts have to be performed in accordance with the requirements set out in the contract documentation. Contract conditions will be strictly applied.

The Council is continuously striving to improve its own performance and it expects its contractors to do the same and to work with the Council to reduce costs during the lifetime of any contract.

Working with Gateshead Council - Local and smaller organisations

The Council is committed to supporting and encouraging smaller and North East based organisations to compete for business and to improve their ability to meet the Council's requirements whilst complying with the requirements of the Procurement Contract Regulations, Standing Orders and best practice guidance.

It is recognised that external organisations play an important part in helping to deliver the Council's core business. Although more than 50% of the UK private sector workforce is employed in small organisations, (less than 50 employees) they are finding it increasing difficult to compete for public sector contracts. In order to assist these organisations the Council's aims are to:

  • give guidance as to the processes and making sure they are kept up to date
  • keep tender documents simple to understand and jargon free
  • set realistic timetables
  • ensure that opportunities are structured in a way so as not to unnecessarily discriminate against smaller organisations
  • be aware of any unintended consequences of their procurement activity
  • encourage larger organisations to adopt supply chain management practices with the local economy in mind
  • encourage suppliers to adopt e-commerce systems that streamline processes and reduce administration time
  • pay organisations more speedily

Freedom of Information and Transparency

The Freedom of Information Act 2000

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 came into force on 1st January 2005. The Act establishes a right of access to all recorded information held by a public authority, subject to some exemptions. Anyone from anywhere can make a request for information under the Act.

Implications for contractors

The Act does not mention contractors, partners, PFI Companies and Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs).

Just because the Act does not currently apply to outsourced organisations and partners does not mean that all information held about you is inaccessible. The right of access applies to information which is "held" not necessarily "owned" by the council.

If the Council holds information about an organisation it will be accessible, subject to certain exemptions.

What can be asked for

Any individual, including the general public (here and overseas); company, organisation, pressure group and journalist, now has the right to ask for information from Gateshead Council which may not have been available before. It does not allow access to personal information; this continues to be covered by the Data Protection Act 1998.

Exemptions

There are 23 exemptions but only about 12 are applicable to local government. The exemptions are of two types, "absolute" and "qualified".

An "absolute" exemption has no application of the public interest test.

A "qualified" exemption means we must decide whether the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in maintaining the exemption.

The two exemptions that are most applicable to procurement activity are sections 41 and 43 of the Act.

If you have marked the information "in confidence" or "confidential" The Council is very aware of the commercial sensitivity of information it holds on contracts and section 41 of the Act provides an "absolute" exemption where the disclosure of the information will constitute an actionable breach of confidence.

This, however, is a very tightly defined area of law. Just because the council has signed up to a confidentiality clause, or marked documents as confidential, does not make it a breach of confidence to disclose.

Drive towards transparency

Central Government has set out the need for greater transparency across the public sector to enable the public to hold public bodies and politicians to account. The Council is therefore required to publish monthly expenditure over £500 with effect from the 1st January 2011. The information includes details of transactions that exceed £500 with individual organisations who are named.

The new transparency policies are not intended to change procurement processes but are intended to create changes in departmental procurement behaviour and to enable the public to see more easily what public sector procurement activity is being undertaken by the public sector.

Community Right to Challenge

The Community Right to Challenge is one of the main features of the Localism Act. It means a relevant body may express an interest in providing a service or part of a service that is provided by or on behalf of the Council if they think they can run it more effectively. View details on how to express an interest under the Community Right to Challenge Guidance page.

Complaints procedure

The Council will adopt a variety of contract monitoring arrangements appropriate to the value and nature of each contract. Most complaints will be discussed and resolved through these arrangements. However, if any organisation has a complaint about unfair treatment or discrimination that cannot be resolved through normal commercial contact with the Council, the complaint can be made in writing through the Council's Corporate Complaints Procedure. This procedure details the Council's policy for dealing with complaints and ensures that the Council acts promptly. Copies of the Corporate Complaints Procedure can be obtained from the Chief Executive, Civic Centre, Gateshead or by email to enquiries@gateshead.gov.uk

Organisations who have tendered to the Council under the Procurement Contract Regulations can take action in the High Court if they have been harmed or are at risk of harm by the Council breaking these regulations.

Contact us

The Corporate Commissioning and Procurement Team are based at the following address:

Corporate Commissioning and Procurement Corporate Services and Governance
Civic Centre
Regent Street
Gateshead Council
NE8 1HH

0191 433 3000

For general enquiries email: procurement@gateshead.gov.uk

For enquiries regarding specific categories of spend contacts are as follows: 

PositionNameContact numberEmail Address
Corporate Procurement ManagerJanine Copeland0191 433 5986janinecopeland@gateshead.gov.uk
Category Lead - Social Care, Public Health and Facilities ManagementRuth Carr0191 433 5957ruthcarr@gateshead.gov.uk
Category Lead - Professional ServicesHannah Dimmick0191 433 5985hannahdimmick@gateshead.gov.uk
Category Lead - ConstructionAnnah Baines0191 433 5992annahbaines@gateshead.gov.uk
Category Lead - ITPaul Millar0191 433 4231paulmillar@gateshead.gov.uk
Procurement Development LeadLaura Hood0191 433 4229laurahood@gateshead.gov.uk