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How procurement works and procurement rules

Procurement is the purchasing of goods, works and services. It is an essential part of delivering public services across Cornwall.

The Commercial and Investments team support the Council with:

  • commissioning
  • procurement
  • contract management

 They also oversee our internal and external supply base.

Rules and regulations

The team also set procurement rules for the Council. These are called the 'Contract Procedure Rules'.

Find out more about Contract Procedure Rules

The rules exist to show that the whole procurement process is open, honest and transparent. Our Officers follow the rules and the associated Regulations when undertaking procurement activities.

The Public Contract Regulations

We have a legal requirement to follow the Public Contract Regulations for contracts over a certain value.

The Regulations govern the way in which public sector procurements are conducted.  They set out the detailed procedures for all procurements above the certain amounts. These thresholds are reviewed every two years. 

The thresholds effective from the 1 January 2024 are:

  • Services = £214,904
  • Supplies = £214,904
  • Works = £5,372,609

The thresholds amounts relate to the whole of a contract and not just the annual spend and now include VAT.

For example a three year contract with an annual spend of £60,000 would total £180,000.

 The process for procurement over these thresholds:

  • Decide which of the procedures is appropriate
  • Publish a contract notice on the Find a Tender Service website
  • Invite tenders according to the procedure being used (open, restricted, negotiated, competitive dialogue). There will be minimum timescales for this to ensure that enough time is given to respond to adverts and prepare submissions.
  • Select a suitable contractor using the criteria published in the contract notice
  • Place a contract award notice in The Find a Tender Service

Find a Tender Service

Types of procurement

Procurement can use any one of the following procedures:

  • Open: any organisation can express an interest and are entitled to tender
  • Restricted: This is a two stage process. Suppliers expressing an interest go through an initial pre-qualification stage. Only the selected suppliers are asked to tender.

Other processes include;

  • negotiated procedure
  • competitive dialogue
  • dynamic purchasing systems

Purchase to Pay Policy

Cornwall Council has a Purchase to Pay Policy.

Find out more about the Purchase to Pay Policy

This policy provides required responsibilities and principles for all employees responsible for requesting, approval and payment of works, goods and services to ensure purchase to pay processes are in accordance with the Council’s Financial Regulations and Contract Procedure Rules.

Preferred payment terms for SMEs

Cornwall Council commits to paying suppliers within 30 days from receipt of invoice or request for payment.

For small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) the commitment is to pay invoices within 14 days.

Find out about the definition of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)

Please see the Preferred Payment Application Form for more information and to apply for preferred payment terms if you are eligible.

Preferred Payment Application Form

Purchase Order process

All invoices need a Purchase Order before payment.

You should not accept any orders, written or verbal, from Cornwall Council employees without a Purchase Order. The Purchase Order will contain a unique number.

When submitting your invoice, it is important that you quote the correct Purchase Order number. This should also be on any receipt, or correspondence you have with us on that particular order.

Unfortunately, if we do not receive the correct Purchase Order details, payment cannot be made. Suppliers will be asked to re-submit the invoice with a valid Purchase Order number.

No PO No Pay Policy

All invoices, with a small number of exceptions, need a Purchase Order (PO) before payment. You should not accept orders (written or verbal) from Cornwall Council employees unless you have a PO.

The PO from us will contain a unique PO number; this will be a 10 digit alpha-numeric number starting with “P” e.g. P100000001. When creating your invoice, it’s important that you quote the correct PO number. This number should also be quoted on any correspondence you have with us about that particular order.

Regrettably if we don’t receive the correct Purchase Order details, payment cannot be made, and suppliers will be asked to re-submit the invoice with a valid PO number.

If you change Bank Details:
All requests to update bank details are checked by our Supplier Data Team. Please be aware our team will contact you to confirm any requests to update your bank details. This reduces the risk of fraudulent requests being processed and to protect your details.

If we need to amend a Purchase Order:
All updates to Purchase Orders will automatically be re-submitted as a Change Order. Please take care to check if you are receiving a Purchase Order (new order) or a Change Order (change to an existing Purchase Order). A Change Order will quote the original Purchase Order Number & is titled as a Change Order.

All new suppliers should receive a New Supplier Induction Pack

New Supplier Induction Pack

Terms and Conditions

The Council uses Standard Terms and Conditions for Purchase Orders for the majority of contracts with a value under £100,000.

View the Standard Terms and Conditions for Purchase Orders

Public Procurement Review Service

Cornwall Council is committed to working with the Public Procurement Review Service.

Find out about Public Procurement Review ServiceThe Public Procurement Review Service is a route for suppliers to raise concerns about public procurement practice.

The service is completely independent of Cornwall Council. Once a concern is raised the Cabinet Office team will work with the Council to resolve concerns.

Before reporting an issue or concern please contact Commercial Services directly via so that we have an opportunity to resolve the issue.

Top Tips for Tenderers

  • When putting the tender together take it one stage at a time. ​
  • Always provide support and evidence for statements made in your tender. ​
  • Ensure the tender focuses on the requirements of set out in the specification and evaluation criteria. ​
  • ​Cross-reference the answers or responses in your tender to the questions in the invitation to tender.​
  • ​The Council can only evaluate what you have submitted.
  • The Council cannot refer to any previous knowledge or experience it has had with a supplier unless it is in your submission – do not make any assumptions about what the  Council may or may not know about your or your company. ​
  • ​Don’t be put off by the tender documentation – you can always ask for help through the clarification process. ​
  • ​Don’t include publicity material in your submission unless you have specifically been asked to. ​
  • ​You must complete and return the documents in the format requested by the given time and date & make sure to sign anything that should be signed. 

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