Finding Tenders for Free (UK)
How to Find Public Sector Tenders in the UK – Free
Many UK public sector contract opportunities are advertised and so can be found easily and at at no cost. This applies to all public-type bodies and therefore you can find tenders for central government, local government / council, NHS, utilities, housing associations etc.
If you don’t have time to search the free portals or want to ensure that you do not miss any important tenders have a look at Tender Alert Services – registration is free.
You can also search for current tenders in your sector using the free Tender Search Facility.
High Value Public Sector Tenders
EU regulations stipulate these have to be advertised across Europe. You can pay for services that alert you when a government type tender comes up that meets your criteria. But many smaller businesses just won’t have enough suitable tenders to justify the expense – especially when you don’t even need to need pay!
This is a fairly easy & free way for you to check for high-value public sector tenders (OJEU tenders) that are advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union and online at Tenders Electronic Daily (TED):
Quick Search Method:
- Go to English language on list ‘EN’
- Choose Search – top RHS (not Expert Search)
- Insert “UK” in Country field
- In Full Text field insert “kent” (or sussex, london etc.)
- OR “construction” (or home care, cleaning, security etc.)
- In Scope (drop down) chose ‘All current notices’
- Press Search
You can also use the ‘Expert Search’ option to do more sophisticated searches (eg refine by CPV or NUTS codes).
- Set up your own account in order to create your own specific saved-search profiles and to save time in future
- Once registered, you can also search archives to see who won previously awarded contracts
- Check weekly & just make a note on the number you got up to last time
- Best to check weekly – sometimes the deadlines are very short
- Some large ‘contract award announcements’ may be worth following up as the main contractor may need sub-contractors
- Work below TED’s threshold should appear in Contracts Finder (below)
Low Value Public Sector Tenders
UK government portal to help small & medium size business win low-value public sector contacts – Contracts Finder.
New public sector contract opportunities over £10,000 are advertised and registration is FREE! Like TED, you can search for live opportunities and awarded contracts. You can also set up FREE email alerts (after registering).
NB These lower value opportunities are NOT advertised in TED so do register for both.
UK Public Sector Tender Portals
In addition to TED and Contracts Finder, there are many tender portals where you can find adverts for contract opportunities for councils, housing associations etc. You can create your own free account and set up alerts for tenders. Some allow you to post a profile so that public sector buyers to can search for your service/product.
There are many across the UK, here are some examples:
South East Business Portal
Information about existing contracts (Contract Store) and forthcoming tenders (Opportunities) across 70+ councils of the South East region. www.businessportal.southeastiep.gov.uk
London Contracts Register
You can see details of contracts held by most of the Local Authorities in the Greater London Area. It allows you to see who the incumbent supplier is and also to search for contracts that are due for renewal. www.londoncontractsregister.co.uk
NHS Supply Chain
The portal for contract opportunities with the NHS: www.supplychain.nhs.uk/suppliers/procurement-opportunities
Private Sector & Worldwide Tenders
In the UK there is no obligation for most private companies to advertise tenders. The only exceptions are firms like utilities, housing associations and some main contractors delivering outsourced public services (normally tendering for sub-contractors for their contract). So finding private sector tenders is usually achieved through traditional sales methods. However, some other private sector tenders are advertised.
Globally there are numerous tender portals in many different countries.
These tender alert services are worth looking at. They are free or offer free options:
They provide a traditional public sector tender alert service for high-value OJEU tenders and lower-value sub-OJEU tenders. B2B Quote also offers private sector tender opportunities from private organisations who use the website to advertise and fulfil tenders which are exclusive to B2B Quote. Tony Zemaitis Associates has teamed up with B2B Quote to provide a free search for tenders and email alerts. Registration is free. www.b2bquote.co.uk
CompeteFor was the publication of 2012 Games-related contract opportunities. It is now used by many different public sector organisations as well as a few private companies. www.competefor.com
Useful Information on Finding UK Tenders and Tendering
Doing Business with Government: Guide for SMEs Government guide for small and medium sized businesses on bidding for government contracts. It also has details on the Mystery Shopper service where you can raise concerns anonymously on unfair public sector procurement practice.
The high value (OJEU) thresholds are detailed at the Cabinet Office (UK only).
When dealing with low-value council contracts, have a look at the council’s web site. Normally it will have a page called something like ‘doing business with the council’ which shows their procurement process, web-portals, and thresholds for quotes, mini-tenders etc.
Tony Zemaitis contributed to the HSBC Knowledge Base: How to Win Public Sector Contracts.
- More tendering resources – Information on Public Sector Tenders
- Details on what you need to consider before tendering in the Fit To Tender Checklist
- A guide to the most commonly used terms and abbreviations – Tender Terms and Glossary
- A guide to understanding Government and Council Tenders
- Search for tenders and free registration for alerts – Tender Alert Service and Live Tender Search