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Selling to the council

The council is a major purchaser of goods and services and spends over £180 million a year on obtaining a vast range of supplies, works and services from the external market.

Naturally many organisations will want to sell or provide their services and supplies to the council, so we have put together this Selling to the council guide to assist suppliers and potential providers who wish to do so, by:

  • outlining the rules that the council must follow
  • explaining where to find details of opportunities to supply the council
  • explaining how to tender for the council’s business
  • explaining what is expected of you when undertaking work for us

To bid successfully for our business, you need to understand our tendering process. The process involves several stages, although not all stages will apply to all tenders.

Expression of interest

To tender for a contract with us you have to express an interest in bidding for the contract. Contact details will be provided in the advertisement. For tenders that are advertised on the “Supplying the South West” web portal you can register your interest through the portal.


The council will only use pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQs) for larger contracts. These will not be used for contracts below £172,514. We will ask you to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire. This asks you to demonstrate how you meet the essential criteria for the contract. A questionnaire will be sent to every supplier who has expressed an interest in the tender.

You should complete the questionnaire fully and clearly. You will only move on to the next stage of the tender if you provide full and satisfactory responses.

Once you have completed the form you must return it to us by the deadline stated. This will be detailed in the questionnaire or covering letter. Any documents received late will be returned unopened. This is because in order to ensure a fair process all pre-qualification documents must be opened at the same time.

The following table gives an idea of the information we will ask for:

  • Company details: Address of office, company registration number etc.
  • Financial information: We will assess your company’s financial position in relation to the  size of the contract. We also check that you are registered for tax (where necessary) and that you meet our insurance requirements. We may also ask for a banker’s reference.
  • Experience and technical ability: We also ask about your relevant experience and technical ability and we will ask for references.
  • Equalities: We will ask how you support the principles of equal opportunities and how you meet relevant legislation.
  • Environment and sustainability: We will ask about your commitment to environmental, social and economic sustainability.
  • Health and safety: We will ask about your health and safety policy, practice and how you meet health and safety legislation.

If you are providing services for children or vulnerable people we may need to request a Criminal Records Bureau check.

Invitation to tender

If you are shortlisted following the pre-qualification stage, or if there is no pre-qualification stage, you will receive an invitation to tender. The tender documents will be made up of:

  • Guidance for completing the tender documentation
  • Form of tender asking for your agreement to the terms and conditions of the tender
  • Specification – what needs to be achieved including policies, procedures, performance, standards and the outcomes expected
  • Schedule of rates and pricing document where all prices are entered
  • Contract of terms and conditions
  • Quality requirements and method statement questions – questions about how you intend to provide the service with supporting evidence of experience
  • Tender evaluation criteria

We conduct some tenders electronically through the “Supplying the South West” web portal.  Instructions will be given in the tender documents.

What do we look for in a tender?

  • Low total cost – this does not mean only a low initial price, but also low running costs throughout the term of the contract. You should consider the whole life cost of supply when putting together your tender
  • Quality – suppliers are expected to provide services, supplies and works to a standard of quality that meets the needs set out in the specification
  • Support for council policies – for example sustainability, equality as well as health and safety
  • Integrity – we expect suppliers to deal with us with integrity and honesty. We do not accept gifts, rewards or hospitality
  • Innovation – you are encouraged to be innovative and suggest new ideas to improve the value or quality of our services
  • Social value – we expect our suppliers to think about how through working with us they can improve economic, social and environmental wellbeing in South Gloucestershire. How we measure social value

Submitting your tender

You must return your completed tender by the deadline given in the invitation to tender. Any tenders received after the deadline will not be considered.  This is because all tender documents must be opened at the same time to ensure a fair process.

If we are conducting the tender electronically you will be asked to submit your tender via the web portal referred to above.

You may be invited to give a presentation or attend an interview as part of your tender submission.

Evaluation of tenders

Once tenders have been received they are evaluated using the criteria set out in the invitation to tender. This is usually carried out by a panel. If there is something that is not clear about your tender we may contact you. Any communication with you will be documented. We will make sure that all bidders receive the same information.

Notification of outcome

When we have made our decision we will let you know in writing whether your bid has been successful.  If your bid is unsuccessful we will provide feedback on the scores achieved by your bid and explain how the winning bid was better in these areas.  This should help you to improve the quality of your bids in future.

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