Finding the right way to buy

The DfE have updated their guidance on when to buy from a framework agreement, when to get bids or quotes, and when to run an EU compliant buying process

When to buy using a framework agreement

Frameworks are a type of contract you can use to buy goods, works or services for your school. Buying from a framework can be quicker and easier than getting bids or quotes because the agreements:

  • have already been through a full competitive tender process;
  • have been quality checked;
  • are checked to make sure they comply with the law;
  • may have draft specifications and help available.

Each framework agreement has:

  • details of the products and services available;
  • an agreed pricing structure;
  • details of the suppliers;
  • instructions on how to buy;
  • an agreed set of terms and conditions.

Each framework tells you how to choose a supplier and place an order.

You will have two options:

  1. Select the supplier from a list.
  2. Run a ‘mini-competition’ – this is where you ask all suppliers on the list to send you a bid and you choose the best one.

How frameworks are selected

A range of frameworks are reviewed and assessed for compliance with procurement regulations, ease of use, suitability and value for money; feedback from schools is also considered when selecting frameworks. The approved list is continually being reviewed and added to.

When to get at least three quotes from suppliers

Buy this way if:

  • you cannot get what you need through a framework agreement;
  • what you are buying is low to medium value.

Check your school’s procurement rules to see what they class as low to medium value. We generally say:

  • low is under £10,000;
  • medium is £10,000 to £40,000.

When to advertise a contract and run a buying process

You must run your own buying process, inviting suppliers to submit bids if:

  • you cannot get what you need through a framework agreement;
  • you are buying high-value things.

Your school’s procurement rules will set what is classed as high; we generally say high is over £40,000. However, if what you are buying is over £189,330 you may have to run an EU-compliant buying process.

When to run an EU-compliant buying process

You need to run this kind of process if:

  • you cannot get what you need through one of our recommended deals for schools or a framework agreement;
  • you are buying something over the EU procurement thresholds.The thresholds are:
  • goods – £189,330;
  • works – £4,733,252;
  • most services – £189,330.

Some services for education, health and care are covered by the ‘light touch regime’; the threshold for these is £663,540.

Check the list of all the services covered by the light touch regime in the legislation.

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