Tendering, Export and the Small Business Series

Article 4 of 5: How to Tender for Opportunities in the UK – a Guide for Irish Firms


This introductory guide is primarily focused on Irish firms considering tendering for opportunities in the UK. This includes contracts at a national UK level and the devolved administrations of: Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  The previous articles (2 and 3), in the series, explore how UK firms can win work in the Republic of Ireland.

One Single EU Market

Despite ongoing talk of a Brexit; a single EU market exists and, despite significant uncertainty, is likely to continue whatever the result of the June referendum. This has created a single territory with no internal borders or other regulatory obstacles to the free movement of goods and services. This means that it can be relatively simple for Irish firms tendering to provide products and services into the UK and other EU countries. Further, you do not have to be a large business to do so and significant opportunities exist for Irish SMEs and micro-enterprises including sole-traders.

Tax Arrangement

An arrangement on tax (convention) has been in place between Ireland and the UK for around 40 years. This is designed to allow firms to trade in each jurisdiction without having to pay tax to both governments. While taxation is not always straight forward, for most firms this means much work that Irish firms can tender for in the UK (and wider EU) will be taxed just once, by the Irish Revenue. Of course it important to seek appropriate advice from www.revenue.ie and/ or independent advice. That said, as a general rule of thumb the convention between Republic of Ireland and the UK makes doing business relatively easy for many Irish firms working in the UK and vice versa. This includes many firms I have supported in the writing of winning tenders for significant UK contracts.

Further information: http://www.revenue.ie/en/practitioner/law/double/uk.html

No Tax Clearance Certificate or Professional Services Withholding Tax (PSWT)

If you are doing business in Ireland then you will know all about the need for a Tax Clearance Certificate and PSWT which takes (withholds) tax in advance for a range of professional services. The good news is that there isn’t really a UK version of either, making things easier for Irish firms. Of course it is worth doing a little research and critical to get the right advice, but crucially Irish businesses of all sizes can and do deliver contracts in the UK.

Further information: https://www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Export-Assistance/International-Office-Network-Services-and-Contacts/United-Kingdom.html

Where to Find Tender Opportunities In the UK

One of the main portals for public sector tender opportunities in the UK is the Contracts Finder website: https://www.gov.uk/contracts-finder. This is a comprehensive list of potential contracts that are worth over £10,000 and cuts across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is by no means the only ‘national portal’ and I have supported many Irish businesses in winning contracts through other sources for example via www.competefor.com – which focuses on major infrastructure projects.

In addition, each of the three devolved administrations also carry their own tendering opportunity databases.

These are: Public Contracts Scotland: http://www.publiccontractsscotland.gov.uk Sell to Wales: https://www.sell2wales.gov.wales/ eSourcing Northern Ireland: https://e-sourcingni.bravosolution.co.uk/web/login.shtml

Many local government organisations (councils) will also publish tender opportunities for example: http://www.finditinbirmingham.com/. In most instances the opportunities will also be published on the Contracts Finder website described above. However, procurement is a complex space and it is critical to have conversations with clients and potential clients on where they publish tender opportunities. Given this cluttered space the Winning Tenders Academy will be introducing a new tender opportunities service. You can sign-up at www.winningtendersacademy.com

Support on Tendering into the UK

The Winning Tenders Academy provides a range of templates, model tender responses, advice and guidance that help many businesses to win work in the UK, Ireland and wider EU. You can explore these at www.winningtendersacademy.com. Next in  the Series: Article 5: Tendering Opportunities in the EU.