Social services should be exempt from EU procurement rules, says Navca

Local infrastructure body believes more charities would then win service delivery contracts

The local infrastructure body Navca has asked the European Union to change its regulations so that the delivery of many social services is exempt from its procurement rules.

The EU is consulting on the effectiveness of public procurement rules, which apply to all public bodies that commission services and set out how tendering exercises should be conducted.

Navca’s response to the review says the rules are too complicated for charities. It urges the EU to make more services exempt from the rules, which it claims would make it easier for local charities to win service delivery contracts. Some social services contracts are already partially exempt from the rules.

In its response, Navca says services defined by EU law as “social services”, which include advice and advocacy services, hospices and public health services, should not be commissioned under EU procurement rules.

Rachel Rhodes, commissioning and procurement adviser at Navca, said the EU rules often overlooked the importance of the local connections made by small charities bidding for contracts to deliver local services. She said the rules were expensive, time-consuming and often inappropriate when they were applied to “people-centred” services.

She said Navca had also asked for the threshold below which contracts were not subject to EU procurement rules to be raised from £156,000 to £400,000.

The response also says it should be easier for public bodies to take account of the social value provided by the organisations bidding for contracts.