ublic sector procurement process in the UK is more expensive than any other nation’s in the European Union, according to new findings from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The independent study was commissioned by Gatewit, a European e-procurement provider.

Researchers found that the average cost of a competitive procurement process in the UK amounts to £45,200, compared to the EU average of £23,900. High expenditure has been attributed to greater combined costs to public sector bodies seeking bids and private sector suppliers bidding for contracts.

On average, attracting each bid costs UK public authorities £1,260, making it the most expensive place in all of Europe for public bodies to market contracts. Only three other nations – Denmark, Norway and Italy – report higher costs for this procedure. Meanwhile, the EU average stands at just £800 per bid.

Not only does this measure cost significantly more in the UK, it takes longer, too. Here, the competition process takes four days longer than the EU average of 22 days. The public sector purchasing process was also found to be comparatively inefficient, as the UK’s is the longest in Europe by 53 days, totalling 160 days or just over five months.

Chief executive officer of Gatewit, Pedro Vaz Paulo, said: “There are multiple areas of concern for public sector procurement departments in the CEBR data. With public bodies looking to reduce expenditure across the board, the cost of attracting bids in the UK is still too high when compared to other similar European countries.”

According to experts, the most effective way to reduce expenditure extends beyond the cost of attracting bids and focuses on creating a more efficient, cost-effective process.

Mr Vas Paulo added: “The long duration of competitive procurement processes in the UK adds expense because of the increased labour costs incurred by longer competitions.”

Additionally, a more streamlined system would reduce upfront bidding costs and would likely give smaller firms with limited resources a chance to compete for bids.

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