New PPN 04/23 on the procurement of steel in major government contracts

A new PPN 04/23 has been published to replace  PPN 11/16 on the procurement of steel in government contracts. It applies with immediate effect to central government bodies, agencies and NDPBs when they are conducting regulated procurements over the value threshold. Other contracting authorities, such as higher education institutions, NHS bodies and local authorities are also encouraged to apply it.

The publication of the new PPN was one of the recommended outcomes of the Steel Procurement Taskforce, which was set up in 2021 to explore ways in which the UK steel sector could best position itself for success. 

The need for the new PPN has been driven by wider policy changes since 2016.  For example, since thatt time new policies have been published around the National Procurement Policy Statement (PPN 05/21), the Construction Playbook (PPN 09/20), the Social Value Model (PPN 06/20) and Supply Chain Visibility (PPN 01/18). This PPN on steel in public procurement reminds contracting authorities that they need to have regard to those policies and methodologies when planning steel procurements that are in scope. The guidance accompanying this PPN illustrates further details on how authorities can go about doing this.

In terms of reporting, authorities who are within scope should already be providing an annual steel data return that sets out both forward looking and backward looking details in relation to their procurement of steel. Authorities must assess and report on (1) their projected likely pipeline of steel requirements and (2) details of steel quantities/types that were actually procured in the previous year. 

This PPN now applies the second of those requirements to all projects with a value of £10 million or more, or, procurements of a lower value than this where the project is one which is estimated to require more than 500 tonnes of steel. The new PPN requires this data to be submitted to the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) within 10 weeks of the end of the financial year (a template is provided for this submission).

The PPN also contains example contractual clauses that authorities can include to require suppliers to provide the data authorities need to be able to comply with the policy, together with an FAQ document

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