The Cabinet Office has recently introduced changes to the Standard Selection Questionnaire (“SSQ”) for above threshold procurements through Public Procurement Note (“PPN”) 03/24. This PPN updates and replaces PPN 03/23 and applies to all contracting authorities, with an implementation deadline of 27 June 2024 (but can be applied immediately). 

The changes reflect feedback on PPN 03/23 and broader policy changes. The key changes to be aware of include: 

  • Prompt payment: Further questions have been included within the SSQ in relation to how bidders will ensure reliable supply chains and suitable payment terms for supply chain contracts.
  • Steel: Where projects / programmes involve a relevant steel procurement, new questions must be used (where relevant and proportionate) to allow contracting authorities to assess supply chain management, the safe delivery of steel and compliance with health and safety legislation (reflecting PPN 04/23). 
  • Russian / Belarusian suppliers: The PPN provides specific guidance around the ability to exclude bids from Russian / Belarusian suppliers (reflecting PPN 01/22). 
  • Removal of references to PAS91: References to PAS91 (which has now been withdrawn by the BSI) have been removed and replaced with the Common Assessment Standard produced by Build UK.
  • Formatting changes: Formatting changes have been implemented to facilitate ease of use on  e-procurement portals.

Whilst these changes do not reflect a complete transformation of the SSQ and guidance, this PPN is nonetheless a helpful consolidation of guidance. 

It remains to be seen how the Procurement Act 2023 will impact the SSQ. Given that various types of supplier information will instead be uploaded to a central digital platform under the new regime (such as supplier details, exclusion grounds, economic and financial standing, and connected persons information), the SSQ will likely be redundant at least in these specific areas.