Minister for Implementation Oliver Dowden has announced proposals to help government achieve its target of 33 percent of central government spend going to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These include plans for suppliers to have greater access to buying authorities to report poor payment performance and improving the Contracts Finder service. The Prime Minister has also asked each Cabinet member to nominate a Minister to act as small business champion in their department to ensure that SMEs are given a fair opportunity to provide services to the public sector.
The objective of this package of measures is to ensure that more businesses - including smaller firms - will be able to supply goods and services to the public sector, while also making public procurement more transparent and increase overall government spend with SMEs. Recent figures from 2015/16 show government spent £5.6 billion directly with small businesses, and from the most recent data for the Digital Marketplace sales have reached £3.2 billion over the past three years, with 48 percent of this being spent on SMEs.
Procuring the Smarter State
techUK’s recent report Procuring the Smarter State set out how procurement can act as a tool for government to deliver its ambitious vision for the future of public services and use public sector procurement to help foster innovation in the GovTech supplier community. Drawing on the findings from techUK’s Civil Servants Survey, and GovTech SME Survey, the report identifies the key challenges and opportunities for government as it seeks to build the Smarter State. The report recommended that one Minister in every department should be given responsibility for driving consistent implementation of the Government Transformation Strategy and have responsibility for commitments relating to procurement and SMEs.
Rob Driver, Head of Public Sector at techUK commented:
“The government has set an ambitious target for 33 percent of procurement spend going to small businesses by 2022 - and the recent announcement by the Cabinet Office contains many welcome actions to help break down barriers for SMEs supplying to the public sector. It is particularly encouraging that the Prime Minister has also written to members of her Cabinet to nominate a ministerial small business champion in each department to ensure that SMEs are given a fair opportunity in supplying to the public sector.”
“For the UK tech sector it is vital that we build on the success of the past three years since the inception of the Digital Marketplace to promote innovation in public services. As recommended in our Procuring the Smarter State report, there must be clear leadership within departments to champion GovTech SMEs and I look forward to working with the small business champions to promote better engagement between government and the thriving UK GovTech industry.”