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Public bodies should at all times follow public procurement policy, based on value for money, and the European Union (EU) procurement rules which exist to ensure all providers can compete for contracts on an equal basis.

While procurement practices should not involve preferential treatment for third sector organisations, there needs to be a level playing field. It is important to ensure that third sector organisations are aware of procurement opportunities, how the procurement rules apply, and that there are no barriers to their participation.

These issues are discussed further in the Office of Government Commerce’s procurement policy web-pages.

The National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) publication ‘Pathways Through The Maze’ also provides guidance on this. Although written as a guide to procurement law for voluntary organisations and community groups, it is useful reading for public sector commissioners wanting to improve their engagement with third sector organisations.