Government makes public sector work more attractive and accessible for SMEs

public sector procurementThe latest changes to public procurement regulations in the UK have now come into force, which the Cabinet Office claims will make it easier for businesses to win government and other public sector contracts. The new regulations have a particular focus on making work more accessible and attractive for small and medium sized enterprises. The key reforms which came into force on the 26 February include the abolition of a pre-qualification stage for procurements below the EU thresholds and a requirement to take account of guidance on qualitative selection issued by the Cabinet Office for above EU threshold; the requirement for contracting authorities to insert provisions in all public contracts to ensure prompt payment through the supply chain; and the requirement to advertise as many public sector opportunities in one place (Contracts Finder), and to publish award notices for contracts and call-offs from framework agreements.

The Contracts Finder website will include information on public sector contracts with a value greater than £10,000 in central government and £25,000 in the wider public sector. The Cabinet Office claims that this will build on its successes in opening up public sector contracts to smaller suppliers which have already meant a substantial increase in the proportion of government spending going to SMEs.  Spending with SMEs hit £11.4 billion in 2013/2014, around a quarter of all public sector spending.

Piers Linney, Co-CEO of Outsourcery, panel member in Dragon’s Den and an advisor to the Government on small business said: “We know government business has been incredibly complicated and costly to bid for in the past, and that was reflected in the tiny proportion of spend going to SMEs. This new legislation and the new site create a huge opportunity for SME businesses with reduced cash-flow risk. They need to educate themselves on their rights under the new legislation and really get under the skin of Contracts Finder to make sure they can seize that opportunity.”