Barring corrupt firms from public procurement

16 November, 2022 | 1 minute read

Excluding companies that engage in wrongdoing or provide shoddy services on public contracts is a crucial way to protect taxpayers’ money and to encourage better corporate behaviour. However, the UK has rarely used its current powers to do so and there is little public consciousness about its effectiveness as a tool.

Spotlight worked closely with academics, experts and civil society colleagues in the UK Anti-Corruption Coalition, to push for a stronger post-Brexit procurement regime in the Procurement Act 2023. The Act will for the first time establish a central debarment register for the UK which is a significant step forward. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, procurement became a headline issue with recurring scandals about contracts for PPE equipment and the use of a “VIP” lane (for those firms that had personal contacts with ministers and MPs). Through our Freedom of Information work, we helped expose how over half of PPE procured during the COVID pandemic through the “VIP lane” was not fit for purpose – illustrating how the use of such approaches in emergency procurement was at the root of poor buying decisions.

This is an edited version of the case study from our 2022-23 Impact Report which can be downloaded here.