A new standardised interactive Expression of Interest (EOI) form has been launched to help take the pain out of future procurement rounds for potential subcontractors of welfare to work services.  The Merlin Advisory Board and ERSA, the trade body for the welfare to work industry, are calling on all prime contractors to adopt use of the form, wherever possible.

The standardised EOI form has been developed as a collaborative project by the welfare to work industry in order to improve the tendering process and support applications from smaller organisations. The form has been spearheaded by ERSA’s Supply Chain Forum, with input from prime contractors and subcontractors, and support from the Merlin assessors, emqc, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

It is expected that the form will be adopted across the industry so that those who wish to express an interest in working with more than one prime contractor can fill in just one form, rather than multiple versions of the same thing.  Previous procurement rounds have seen small organisations, both voluntary and private sector, fill in over 100 separate expressions of interest, most of which request similar information in slightly different ways. 

It is envisaged that widespread use of the form will cut the amount of resource required by subcontractors at the EOI stage of a tender and could encourage more smaller organisations to participate in the procurement process.

Simon Tse, Contracted Customer Services Director for DWP and Chair of the Merlin Advisory Board, said:

“The Merlin Standard remains a flagship ‘gold standard’ code – encouraging excellence and generating healthy, high performing supply chains.

“The addition of this new improved standardised Expression of Interest will enable our prime providers and subcontractors, including small and Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations(VCSOs), to more easily come together to form the healthy, high performing supply chains we need to continue to get people off of welfare and back into work, and is in line with an overall drive to keep procurement processes straightforward and inexpensive for SMEs and VCSOs.

I hope all organisations, both large and small, wanting to be involved in the delivery of our programmes (such as the Work Programme) will embrace this opportunity as well, of course, as the Merlin Standard itself.”

Kirsty McHugh, ERSA Chief Executive, welcoming the launch, said:

“It’s really important that we take the pain out of the tender process for subcontractors in future.  Wherever possible we want to see prime contractors use this form to cut time and efforts for small organisations wanting to deliver welfare to work services.”

The additional interactive element of the EOI gives users the ability to search by different criteria such as delivery location or service experience. This gives prime contractors the ability to search for subcontractors based on a range of different requirements. Once a search is completed the EOI will be downloadable once permission has been granted by the user.

The interactive form can be found on the Merlin website (www.merlinstandard.co.uk/search-eoi.php).