27 February 2015
The government has introduced its new contracts finder website to help organisations to bid for future public sector contracts.
The government spent £11.4 billion with small and medium-sized enterprises in 2013 to 2014, an all-time high. The figure amounts to 26.1 per cent of all government spend.
The website covers current and future public sector contracts above £10,000 in central government and £25,000 in the wider public sector.
It is launched in conjunction with new legislation, which came into force on 25 February.
It states that:
- Everyone in the supply chain must comply with 30-day payment terms, including suppliers and sub-contractors;
- Public bodies must publish an annual late payment report, making their accountability more transparent;
- The bidding process is simpler across the wider public sector - complex forms, such as Pre-Qualification Questionnaires, are now abolished for low value contracts (under £200,000); and
- The procurement process for public sector contracts will be quicker.
Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said: "As part of our long-term economic plan this government is overhauling public procurement to open things up to businesses of all sizes. I am so pleased that our reforms have ensured that innovative SMEs benefited from £11.4 billion of business last year alone. Over a quarter of our spend now goes to SMEs, but we know there's much more to do, and these new reforms show just how determined we are to finish the job."
Lord Young, the Prime Minister's Enterprise Adviser said: "Contracts Finder is a world first in terms of scale and ambition. It opens up government business like never before and levels the playing field for SMEs who in the past, didn't know how to find public sector contracts, let alone bid for them."
Piers Linney, Co-CEO of Outsourcery and member of the government's SME panel, added: "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."