The Government has published its second PPN of 2023- PPN 02/23 (replacing PPN 05/19).
Modern Slavery is not a new concept. However, the new PPN has made the Government’s intentions to tackle modern slavery in government Supply Chains clear.
What was once ‘may’ or ‘should consider’ for the contracting authority’s discretion has become a ‘must’ or ‘should’ in relation to the risk of modern slavery. Procurement teams are now tasked with mandatory action to apply the PPN to existing contracts and new procurement activity from 1 April 2023.
Bidders beware! Bidders should also pay close attention to the changes made in the PPN and begin adjusting their processes ready for scrutiny if the procurement is considered high risk. Transparency in the supply chains is paramount and bidders must be aware that contracting authority’s will continue to interrogate their supply further down the chain.
When should this be considered? The risk of modern slavery should be considered at every stage of the procurement exercise from the pre-procurement stage to contract management to ensure the parties are compliant and not at risk of challenge. PPN 02/23 introduces the focus on pre-market engagement to ensure that action is taken as soon as possible and is both proportionate and achievable in relation to tackling modern slavery.
Know your procurement inside and out. A risk-based approach is necessary for the purposes of the procurement to ensure the contracting authority is taking the appropriate action. Table 1 of PPN 02/23 remains largely unchanged but now includes current modern slavery risks of concern including in relation to the procurement of PPE.
Is my procurement high or medium risk? This is a decision of the contracting authority, but the thresholds for high and medium risk are likely to be lower than one might expect. High risk procurements should include a requirement for supply chain information to be provided at the selection stage of the procurement.
Be proportionate. Contracting authorities should take proportionate action to the risk of modern slavery in the supply chain. This will be a balancing exercise in each case; contracting authorities should not make public contracts inaccessible to SMEs and VCSEs and must continue to promote diversity in supply chains.
Conviction = exclusion. Conviction of a modern slavery offence is a mandatory ground for exclusion from a regulated procurement. Evidence of modern slavery but no convictions for offence may be a discretionary exclusion ground. PPN 02/23 includes additional guidance on due diligence for the contracting authority.
The quick reference guide to tackling modern slavery provides useful tools and information. If you would like to learn more about the possible impact of the new PPN on your procurement or bidding activity, do get in touch.