This year’s SME survey by techUK found that small and medium-sized businesses are still struggling to access and win government contracts, with many still unaware of measures in place to aid the process.
Barriers to Business
Recently-published findings from techUK’s annual SME survey have shown that there is still work to be done to remove the barriers preventing smaller businesses from applying for government contracts, and that SMEs are still not using the services that could help them in this regard.
65% also did not feel that the Government’s Contracts Finder helped them gain access to contracts, while 86% of the 171 SMEs surveyed had never used the Government’s Mystery Shopper Service, which allows suppliers to report tenders they don’t understand or cases of suspected poor procurement practice. The Government uses this information to help public sector ensure they are transparent and open, publishing investigation results monthly.
94% did not think that civil servant buyers had a good understanding of how SMEs can meet their needs, and while this was a 2% improvement on the previous year, it indicates there is still an urgent need to improve engagement between the industry and the Government earlier in the commissioning process and raise awareness of the range of innovative tech available.
The survey found that procurement processes and terms and conditions in contracts were some of the biggest barriers to winning Government contracts.
Bringing Down Public Procurement Barriers
techUK is working with the Cabinet Office, CCS (Crown Commercial Service) and GDS (Government Digital Service) to address the concerns voiced by SMEs by:
– Developing a new Bidder Pack and a new model contract designed to make the procurement process easier.
– Working to implement its Six Point Plan to support the Government’s target of a £1 in £3 procurement spend for SMEs.
The Government has now also set up a new SME advisory panel with 24 entrepreneurs across a range of industries, launched just last week.
Naureen Khan, Director of Public Services, explained: “There is no doubt that British based SMEs have a key role in driving innovation in Government. It’s clear that changes must be made to develop simple and accessible procurement processes and our survey findings show that we need swift action to ensure the public sector benefits from harnessing the very best of UK tech.”
Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “SMEs are a central part of the Government’s efforts to improve innovation and modernise our public services so that they work for everyone. That is why we are committed to spending £1 in every £3 of government procurement spending on SMEs by 2020. This Government is firmly on the side of the entrepreneurs and small businesses that are the lifeblood of the UK economy – so we will do everything we can to make their lives easier.”