September 20, 2013 - Rachel Miller

Public sector procurement to be 'SME-friendly'

Public sector procurement to be 'SME-friendly'Further government plans to make it easier for smaller firms to bid for and win work in the public sector have been announced by Cabinet Office minister Chloë Smith.

Building on central government reforms to make its business more accessible to SMEs, the government has now launched a consultation taking forward Lord Young's recommendations to create an SME-friendly 'single market' for public procurement.

The proposals will simplify and standardise how public contracts are advertised, bid for and paid for across the public sector. Suppliers who want to do business with the public sector can expect all organisations to follow a single set of principles when buying goods and services.

Chloë Smith said: "Historically SMEs have been shut out of government business. In the past, bidding for public sector contracts was time-consuming, expensive and overly bureaucratic.

"Removing barriers and setting out a consistent, single set of SME-friendly principles for the whole public sector will provide the right support to encourage significant business and growth opportunities for SMEs, and help give the UK a better starting position in the global race."

Lord Young, the prime minister's enterprise adviser, said: "We need to improve small businesses' access to the public procurement market by removing the bureaucratic processes and poor payment practices which stop and discourage SMEs from making winning bids for contracts."

The consultation proposals include:

  • all public sector contracts over £10,000 to be accessible on the same site;
  • the banning of burdensome pre-qualification questionnaires for low value public sector contracts;
  • the introduction of a single standardised requirement for high value contracts;
  • ensuring suppliers further down the supply chain benefit from the same standard payment terms offered to prime contractors.

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